“In a country with greater than 50% of the population 18 years or under, it is obvious that the future of the country lies in youth. However right now, that future looks bleak. With a school system that punishes initiative, a bare 14.5% of public schools are considered adequate and the drop-out rate above primary school is 70%, how can we hope to be developing strong young leaders that will lead this country into a secure and sustainable future?” — Project Seres website
We are proud to sponsor youth leadership training through Project Seres. The creative ideas of youth – when given a voice and a safe place to express them – are truly incredible. The Youth Leaders for the Pachamama program is a 3-day youth workshop for rural indigenous and disadvantaged youth. (Pachamama means Mother Earth.) In addition to engaging and educating these youth about the environmental challenges faced in the region, the project also works on empowerment and leadership. Project facilitators assist participants in creating an image of a strong leader, then help them to identify with the feeling of success and the power to create change, encouraging them to be role models for other youth in their communities.
The transformation is amazing.Take Sucely – 18 years old, teen pregnancy, living on the outskirts of the city’s largest rubbish dump. On the first day, she is too shy to even eat with the group and giggles into the shoulder of her friend. On the second day as we start to talk about our concerns, she talks about constantly smelling rubbish everywhere she goes, of seeing garbage on the streets throughout the community, of people that come in from outside to throw rubbish in the streets, too lazy to drive all the way to the dump. And by day three, Sucely stands tall and proud beside her friend, presenting to a roomful of people their plan to clean their community, educate the people and mount a citizen campaign against the illegal dumping of rubbish.
Corrina and Antonio, the co-facilitators, sit proudly on the sidelines giving each other a smile. The results – the transformations in these youth – are staggering. Corrina states, “Never before have I witnessed such profound change blossoming before my eyes. It fills me with hope.”