On March 30th I participated in a visit to Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of America in Managua, Nicaragua. I met the amazing team of Mirna, Moises, Isabel and the rest of the Managua staff for WNPA.
In their organizational philosophy the WNPA believes that “the most valuable assets are the human resources of each country.” Improving those assets is the real trick. One of the strategies that the WNPA is working on is learning centers. There are currently over 70 active learning centers all over Nicaragua that endeavor to train and support individuals and enhance vocational skills. The training courses encapsulate a wide range of activities such as handcrafts, sewing, beauty, handcrafts, jewelry, knitting, and embroidery. The ultimate objectives are to give the women a craft and source of income as well as to “empower them to educate themselves.” Does it work?
An estimated 1,485 women were helped through these learning centers in 2010 alone. Around 700 of these women graduated from 13 centers alone. I would say that WNPA is doing a great job of building their human resources within Nicaragua. They are teaching these women skills that they can use throughout their lifetimes to generate revenue on their own. This increased revenue directly translates into improved quality of life for the beneficiaries.
The WNPA was gracious enough to show me first hand one of their learning centers in progress. The country staff kindly introduced me to a group of around 15 women who meet every week to work on making jewelry. The instructor was a high skilled woman who was also a previous graduate of the learning center program. The women supply their own jewelry and pay modest fees for the training workshops and in return receive the teaching that enables them to make a marketable product. The course I visited appeared to also be a very social and interactive engagement. Many of the women were actually helping one another and providing suggestions to one another on their products.
I think it is important for all donors to know the great work that is happening at WNPA. The learning centers are just one component of the overall strategy. For those looking to get involved, however, I think that supporting these learning centers is a great place to start. This is a project and organization that I endorse and would feel confident donating my money too and knowing that it’s being well spent. I would like to give a big thanks to Amy Wiza for arranging this visit and to the country staff in Managua for taking time to share in conversation and show me the learning centers.
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