By Xiomara Diaz - President, Board of Directors VVN
Participant, Cohort 1
It has been 6 months since Nicaragua's tourism industry came to a complete halt. Thousands of minimum wage jobs lost and non-exisiting safety nets have brought people into economic fragility. Day after day people have been waking up to the hope that international flights to Nicaragua have resumed, thinking that perhaps tourism will trickle back in and the promise from hotels and restaurants that "you will be rehired when tourists come again" will prove true. As time passes, the light of hope of the industry becomes dimmer and dimmer. In a country with a multi-layered crisis, tourism isn't the only affected industry, it's just a complex one as it has been functioning as the “biggest job generating industry” in several Nicaragua cities over the last decade.
Women truly have been hit hardest as they represent a majority of the labor force in the tourism industry and with a large percentage of absent fathers, the task of sheltering, feeding and educating children is testing. The emotional burden of going through two acute crises in a two-year period along with the installed fear from all fronts tends to freeze people's dreams and numb the grittiest of characters.
As an organization with the mission to strenghthen women's leadership in order to boost their growth, we honor the urgent call to identify women across our country who are ready to receive support, training, mentorship and be reminded that they are not alone. Thanks to the support of over 50 generous donors, we have been able to launch our first cohort of the Relief & Training:100 unemployed Nicaraguan Women.
On September 22nd we launched our first virtual program with 25 women from Granada. Initially, there was a general sense of inadecuacy in most of the participants: for many of them this was their first class online. Or perhaps their first formal class since sixth grade. The frustation was evident, we could tell the mere act of signing up to this program and showing up was getting the participants far outside their comfort zones. On our side, we knew connectivity and technology would be a variable that could potentially threaten our program, but given the circumstances and the urgent need, we kept going with a lot of patience and compassion for everyone--them and ourselves.
Throughout the first 5 sessions, we have gone through big lessons in self discovery and confidence, leadership, employability and entrepreneurship. We have been working to create a safe space for women to share their strengths, challenges and most importantly to build a support group in which meaningful dialogue is possible. We have seen women move from fear to courage, from silence to expression, from feeling hopeless to feeling empowered and ready to continue with the confidence that they can!
Over the next month we will continue with training and business planning to eventually move into business pitches and grant competition.
We want to thank you for your generous contributions to advance our mission to empower women, our goal is to reach at least 100 women, but we are motivated by a bigger dream to reach many hundreds across Nicaragua.
We look forward to keeping in closer touch as the year progresses toward business pitches of the first cohort. Thank you for your generous and enduring support.
Understanding that you have already donated, we kindly ask you to reach out to five friends who care about Nicaragua and women empowerment and ask them to support our fundraising campaign. Every little bit helps.
Best regards from Nicaragua,
President Board of Directors Voces Vitales Nicaragua
Cohort 1 Relief&Training:100 unemployed Nic. Women
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