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Communities spur change and inspiration in their neighbourhoods and beyond

POSTED July 18, 2022

Communities spur change and inspiration in their neighbourhoods and beyond

Fred recalls his trip to Nicaragua where he met women, youth and the child he sponsors — all committed to making change together

By Fred Witteveen, CEO, ceo@childrenbelieve.ca

As Fred visits his sponsored child he sits with the family

Most of us are part of multiple communities that bring us joy and push us to be better. Consider your networks at school, church, work, on social media and among your family.

On my recent visit to  Nicaragua, I saw how important groups of people like this are as I met kids, youth and adults thriving because of the sense of belonging and support being in a community brings. Below are just three “communities” spurring change in their neighbourhoods in Nicaragua.

Women coming together to lift each other up can make a big difference

I met a group of leaders from Los Laureles Sur in their community centre. Built with funds donated by supporters in Canada, this heart of the neighbourhood was a warm and friendly hub of activity.

It was in this setting that I heard remarkable stories of women who have endured, leaning on each other to build better lives — not only for themselves and for their children — but for all the neighbourhood kids. They have become leaders in education, health and child protection.

I met Karla, a local tutor. She learned to read and write when she was 11 and is now helping parents improve their literacy so they can teach their own children. Her spirit for service comes shining through.

And Heydi, another woman at the centre, proudly showed me her collection of keychains, explaining how she’s selling 2,000+ a week in Nicaragua, with some sold online to customers living in the Caribbean. She’s thankful for the seed funds she received through our programs to help start her business.

Then, three aspiring chefs who participated in a culinary arts program through Children Believe’s partnership with Nestlé shared their dreams for starting their own businesses. They hope these ventures will be rooted in the community and help provide jobs for their peers.

How could I not be inspired?

Fred stands and poses with members from JUPAC youth group

Youth who think together take action to make positive change together

It was amazing to meet smart young people who won’t give up on making change for themselves and their community. I did that when I met the members of JUPAC — which, translated to English, stands for Youth Thinking Together and Taking Action (pictured, above).

What immediately struck me was how passionate these friends are to serve their neighbourhood (like their name suggests). And, they’re brimming with confidence, showing how important youth participation is in achieving social action.

They have so much potential to make a difference in their communities. In fact, many, like Hector, are already running their own businesses, thanks to support from our program. And, even if they’ve been in the program for a long time, they’re committed to being involved in helping others year after year.

There’s so much to learn from these youthful mentors.

Sponsored child thrives with support at home, in her community and from her sponsor

Then I met Arlen (pictured with her family, top). I quickly saw the strong network that surrounds the 13-year-old girl I sponsor. Her two caring parents just want her and her younger sister to achieve their dreams. Their extended family is even inspiring Arlen’s dream to be a plastic surgeon.

Her parents beamed with pride as they shared how Arlen excels in school, and we all began talking about science and math, and what skills are needed to become a doctor. I could see the joy on their faces at working towards the goal of medical school for Arlen together as a family.

Arlen’s parents were grateful for how sponsorship is allowing them to support their daughter in building a bright future through access to life essentials, school and more. It’s a real honour that I can be even a small part of making this dream a reality.

It was very clear that sponsorship meant a lot to this family.

It was clear sponsorship means a lot in all the communities I visited — communities where children, youth and adults are changing their futures for the better together.

Learn more about our programs in Nicaragua where communities are spurring change.

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ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.