POSTED May 7, 2018
How a trip to Nicaragua opened my eyes to a special need
On my first CCFC field trip, I learned about our PICMCA project. Find out why it holds a place in my heart
By Tatevik Galstyan, digital communications specialist, Canada
I didn’t know what to expect, as I boarded the plane to Nicaragua for my first field visit as the digital communications specialist at Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC).
I knew I had to film a story that isn’t easy to tell. It’s the story of thousands of children and teens who migrate alone to other countries without proper immigration papers (as “irregular migrants”). The real story is why they’re leaving. They’re fleeing violence, crime and poverty in search of better opportunities.
What struck me most was the obvious lack of opportunities teens have in Nicaragua. I could see it everywhere — on the street and in the communities — where youth sat around with seemingly nothing to do. It’s that difficult to find a job. I learned many who do find a job aren’t paid much. One woman I met was paid $60/month to clean streets.
That’s why CCFC, with funding from the Government of Canada and partners, launched the Preventing Irregular Child Migration in Central America (PICMCA) project. It will improve child-protection systems and create safe spaces; provide skills-training, scholarships and other education resources; as well as encourage children and youth to be leaders in their community. I saw the need for this opportunity everywhere.
After intensive pre-production, we were ready to shoot stories about individuals who tried to migrate irregularly, endangering their lives. It was quite an experience to meet those people and hear their heartbreaking stories.
I gained a new understanding of why some leave, and what it meant for them. Some were victims of human trafficking, some were abused by gang members, others experienced the horrors of travelling to a supposed “dreamland.”
I felt these people’s appreciation for having a place to share their stories. That was the most rewarding part. They seemed relieved to speak openly; they just wanted to be heard.
I feel very lucky to be part of CCFC, so I can see positive changes in people’s lives, while working with passionate people toward a meaningful goal.
My trip to Nicaragua was life-changing. I was part of something big, something exciting, by simply telling people’s stories. I’m looking forward to seeing how our work through PICMCA can create opportunities to improve the well-being of teens who deserve bright futures.
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 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.