Nica Hope Jewelry Project
Nica HOPE is a program of Fabretto that provides education, vocational training, and alternative income-generation to youth from the community in and around the Managua city trash dump. Children in the community often live under abhorrent health and sanitation conditions, working in the dump to make little more than $2 a day. Nica HOPE programs aim to provide these youth and their families alternative opportunities for a future that allows a sustainable, healthy, and dignified way of living. There are three direct ways to support Fabretto’s Nica HOPE project:
Alternative Income-generation and Vocational Training Program
The jewelry program is a training course for youth (age 14+) and mothers of our students to learn a specific artisan trade in order to earn an income in a healthy and educational atmosphere. The Nica HOPE project includes a variety of jewelry-making classes including beading, macramé (woven jewelry), and the Nicology recycled jewelry project. In addition to developing creativity and providing an alternative activity to working in the trash or in other unsafe and unhealthy environments, this program serves as a means of income-generation for the students. Each student receives a portion of the profit for each item that he or she makes that is sold. The program is also teaching the students about the business fundamentals of jewelry-making, so that each program graduate might have the opportunity to start his/her own small business to earn a stable living.
The jewelry program currently has over 100 students enrolled, with 45 students earning an average of $20 or more a month, and as much as $50 a month. Most older children in the community are expected to contribute to their household incomes, so this program is a key part of the initiative to stop families from sending their children to work in the unhealthy conditions of the trash dump or on the streets. Students in the program are able to start earning an income within a couple weeks, depending on their skill level.
San Francisco Computer Training Center
The San Francisco center currently trains over 200 students in basic computer skills, internet navigation, Microsoft Office, graphic design, Accounting with Excel, and Computer Repair and Maintenance classes. The computer program opens students’ minds to a world beyond their front doors, while building skills necessary for future job opportunities. Computer classes are currently offered to students from 8 years old to adults, and from novice to advanced skill levels. Because the classes are so popular and space and resources are limited, priority is given to students who either live in the Managua city dump, La Chureca, or in households that earn their livelihood from trash-related activities. This program helps to prepare students for formal sector jobs, which, in the capital city of Managua, typically require at least some level of computer skills. Educational computer programs help strengthen the basic education of younger students in math, reading, and critical thinking. Older students can take advanced courses, which are certified by the Nicaraguan National Technological Institute (INATEC), and graduate in a particular skill area. The classes in graphic design, Accounting with Excel, and Computer Repair and Maintenance were newly opened in 2009. The San Francisco center is in the process of developing a program to offer assistance to students for securing internships and job placements upon graduation from the INATEC program.
Chureca Schools Lunch Programs
The Nica HOPE Fabretto team also runs a lunch program at each of the two main public primary schools located near the trash dump, the Acahualinca Primary School and the Wisconsin Primary School. The School Feeding and dining hall at the Acahualinca School opened in February 2008 to coincide with the beginning of the school year and now provides lunch to over 750 students a day. The lunch hall at the Wisconsin School was constructed in 2008 with funds from Cross International and was opened at the beginning of the 2009 school year. The program now provides lunch to about 550 students a day. The school lunch programs serve as an incentive for students to enroll and stay in school, while raising their nutrition and growth in addition to bolstering their capacity to learn and concentrate in class. Fabretto receives in-kind food donations from Feed My Starving Children, Cross International, USAID, and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education for these lunch programs. At each of the two schools, a head cook hired by Fabretto organizes and stores the food supplies, leads the cooking process and coordinates the efforts of the volunteer mothers who prepare lunch for the students each day.
Integral Education Program for At-Risk Youth
The Nica HOPE Project has incorporated all its programs in a comprehensive effort to target child workers and other at-risk children from the trash dump and surrounding community. Most of the children in the program had dropped out of school, whether to work or because their families could not afford the supplies and uniforms to send them to school. The program works to remove the children from hazardous work situations, re-enroll them in school, and provide them with additional educational support to allow the students to successfully complete school and access future job opportunities. Depending on the age of the child, each student typically receives school supplies, a school uniform, after-school tutoring, computer classes, vocational skills classes, life-skills classes, and continual household visits and follow-up by the center staff. Many of these children are individually supported through our Child Sponsorship Program, which covers a portion of the direct costs of serving these children.
There are 125 students enrolled in this program for the 2011 school year. Many of the students have not been in school for several years and need extra support to catch up with their peers. This support is provided through the after-school tutoring program. Individual attention, household visits, and regular parent meetings are particularly important to successfully keep the children in school. These efforts are led by the Nica HOPE community outreach team, consisting of a social worker-psychologist, two Nica HOPE promoters from the community, and various volunteers.
Through this new program, children and adolescents receive inputs for personal empowerment, so that they may develop the skills and habits necessary to maximize opportunities within their social environments. The program provides healthy recreation alternatives for students, and works towards the reduction of domestic violence, through building healthy family relationships based on values of respect and solidarity.
The students in this program participate in exchanges with other specialized organizations about issues such as addiction, violence, gangs, AIDS, sexual abuse, and shelters for children and adolescents. When a student comes to the program with a problem or a situation that is more serious than can be attended to the San Francisco center, the team accompanies the family to an organization that specializes in the assistance that they need. Many families have solved and overcome serious problems through this program.
History of Nica HOPE
The Nica HOPE Project was founded in 2008 as an outreach of the Fabretto Children’s Foundation, targeted specifically at youth from the community of the Managua city trash dump. The founder of the project Deanna Ford connected with Fabretto’s founder Kevin Marinacci in the fall of 2008, right as Nica HOPE was getting started. From there, they worked together to brainstorm on the best ways to bring resources together to serve this trash dump community. Today, Nica HOPE is a fully integrated program of Fabretto that continues to provide education, vocational training, nutrition and health services to the community of the Managua city dump.