When we present our program to potential donors and social investors, we carefully explain the components of our unique program and the excellent statistics, at levels unheard of in Nicaragua, of school retention rates, pass rate, and graduation rates.The most compelling testimonial, however, is the successful young adults in our program. Many of them have been supported by our program since their earliest days in school and are now emerging in the world as young professionals, often the first from their family.
Throughout his school years, when he is not studying, until recently he spent his time making reed mats to sell with his mother.
Juan Jose’s long-held dream is to become a chef; he has two more years of schooling to complete before he is eligible for chef school. Learning in the traditional Nicaraguan style (rote learning) has been a challenge for Juan Jose. His siblings all dropped out without ever reaching 6th grade. With EI’s support, via home visits, tutoring, and personalized attention to the specific issues Juan has faced, he has reached the 7th grade.
Juan says that one of the reasons he remained in school is the lure of the EI photography program, which is designed to help motivate and retain
students. He has been in this program for 5 years. His excellent photos have been shown in several exhibitions worldwide. As you might expect, his favorite genre of photography is food photography! Relatively speaking, Juan Jose, age 18, is not young, and the challenge of keeping him in school for two more years instead of him taking a low-paying manual labor job immediately would be quite difficult, given the cultural
expectations of the only male in the home. However, with our personalized approach to each child, EI was able to place him in an internship at Restaurante Espresonista, an exceptional local restaurant that prides itself in creating local, organic cuisine with ever-changing menus. Juggling school, his family responsibilities, and his internship, Juan has excelled,showing a great passion and excellence in his work leaving the restaurant owners very impressed. He now has a paid part-time position with the restaurant. At the end of this school year, with EI’s support, he is planning to work full-time in the restaurant and attend a weekend high-school designed for adults, so he can finish his secondary education and move to the next level which will be formal culinary school.
Students like Juan show how hard our children will work to improve their lives, and the lives of their families, given an opportunity. Since working in Nicaragua, Juan Jose has been a part of Empowerment International and seeing him grow up to be successful young man is one of the great rewards we can all be proud to be a part of.As a side note, Juan Jose has been sponsored by a professional photographer and his partner in Canada and they are very proud to see him grow into a fine young man.Juan Jose is just one of 324 kids in our program and many of our original kids are finding their way into the world! How exciting is that? For just $30 a month you too can sponsor a child like Juan Jose, with a lot of hard work and your support you can witness and be an important part in helping a child break the cycle of poverty.