POSTED February 10, 2022
A journey of hope: from sponsored child to fashion entrepreneur
Children Believe supports young Nicaraguan’s dream
By Enmanuel Castro, communications manager, Nicaragua
Sitting at a sewing machine running fabric under the needle, Hector reflects on his life since taking part in entrepreneurship training. He shudders at what might have been if he hadn’t joined.
“My life and that of my grandmother changed after I received the seed capital to start my own business,” he says. “(Without it) I might have had to migrate to Costa Rica to find work.”
The 21-year-old Nicaraguan stands out for his originality, wearing stylish clothes he modifies and makes himself. It’s one outward sign of how he is blazing his own path in life, making a name for himself in clothing and fashion and achieving his dreams by starting his own business, he says.
Former sponsored child is connected to project to help him launch business
It was all made possible thanks to his connection as a former sponsored child through Children Believe, which led him to become involved in a project called Preventing Irregular Child Migration in Central America and Mexico (PICMCA). Hector received business training along with a group of his peers and seed funding for his entrepreneurial idea.
Today, thanks to his involvement in the project, and starting his business, Hector has taken on the family’s household expenses and continues to improve himself, studying fashion design at the National Technological Institute in Managua, Nicaragua.
Implemented by Children Believe, and financed by the Government of Canada, PICMCA has helped hundreds of youth like Hector in five countries overcome financial hardship and find ways to work in their home communities, rather than leave their country for other opportunities.
Life before the PICMCA project changed Hector’s future for the better
Hector and his siblings were raised by their grandmother in Las Torres, a Managua neighbourhood known to be among the capital’s most dangerous. However, the care and protection of grandma were key to keeping the grandkids safe and in school.
Another essential factor was Hector being a sponsored child by a Canadian donor through Children Believe. This made a big difference in helping Hector’s family overcome hardship and ensure the children received proper nutrition and access to education from a young age.
Before taking part in PICMCA, Hector explains, he had opportunities to work where he developed an interest in sewing and fashion. But he says the work often didn’t last.
“I needed a career but did not see many possibilities,” he states. “Since I was a child I’ve been involved with social projects in my community, as part of a Children Believe group called Youths United, Thinking, and Acting. Taking part in PICMCA I’ve learned a lot, especially about entrepreneurship.”
Prior to starting his business, the only income Hector’s family could count on was money sent by his aunt in Costa Rica. Lack of economic and employment opportunities; direct and indirect violence, especially gender violence; and a lack of spaces for youth to participate are among the three main causes of children and youth migrating irregularly to other countries in the region. To foster a brighter future, the PICMCA project promoted equal opportunities, protection, employability and participation.
How the PICMCA project is providing lasting opportunities through entrepreneurship
In five years Hector envisions having an established tailoring workshop, employing other young people and solidifying his career in fashion design.
“I have plans for my life, and the (PICMCA) project has made a huge contribution to my personal economy,” he says. “Now I have tools I would not have been able to obtain on my own. I am studying, because I can pay for my transportation and meet my needs; and I can help and be with my grandmother. I have the confidence that I can plan ahead and reach my goals, step by step.”
Hector symbolizes what PICMCA is all about: addressing issues such as lack of economic and employment opportunities; direct and indirect violence, especially gender violence; and the lack of spaces for youth to participate, which are the three main causes of irregular migration in the region.
To reduce these three factors, the PICMCA project promotes equal opportunities, protection, employability and participation.
Hector participated in the employability component of the project His goal was to improve his skills to find a lasting job and gain work experience. This support was geared to young women and men at risk of irregular migration, to provide equal opportunities in income-generating activities.
Along with the overall funding for the regional project from the Government of Canada, the project was led in Nicaragua by Children Believe and realized together with three partners: The International Organization for Migration, The Institute for Human Promotion and EDUCO.
Children Believe recently held a virtual panel to explore the ongoing issue of irregular migration in Central America and Mexico. The success and methods of PICMCA were explored with experts in the international development sector.
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.
Preventing Irregular Child Migration in Central America (PICMCA):
Children Believe is leading a $15.2-million regional project in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua, designed to improve the well-being of children and youth who are at risk of irregular migration. The Government of Canada is contributing $12.6 million to the four-year project. The initiative addresses a number of the root causes that fuel irregular migration — from high levels of crime and violence, limited employment and educational opportunities, to social exclusion and a lack of information on the inherent dangers of migrating without following the normal immigration procedures. For this project, Children Believe is partnering with two non-governmental organizations: ChildFund International-USA and Educo.
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.