Because it takes a village!
Something we’ve continually observed and confirmed in the process of working with young girls in Granada is that a human definitely needs a village in order to thrive.
The material and skills needs of the girls we work with are HUGE, yet we believe there is a deeper need, one that cannot be solved with a checkbook or by one single person, but rather by many committed ones,—the need for dignity, connection, recognition and guidance, a void in every underserved community and many times even in well-served ones.
At UPNicaragua we believe in the conscious and continuous transformation of ourselves and our community. We are grateful for the commitment and support from dozens of Nicaraguan women who believe in the power of connection and make an effort to invest in girls and other women at a very deep level— by sharing their time, experiences and guidance.
On March 10th we hosted our second mentoring walk in Granada, the Global Mentoring walk is a movement promoted by the Vital Voices network connecting over 15,000 women worldwide. In Granada though challenged by recent national circumstances, we got to experience a powerful morning together. Throughout the last year, Nicaraguans have learnt that crisis, though painful, often represents opportunities for innovation and growth and our 2019’s “Mentoring Walk” was no exception.
As opposed to last year when over 60 women and girls got to walk down with our signs in Granada’s public streets all the way down to Lake Cocibolca, this year we had to stay inside and do our program differently. We are grateful for the opportunity to gather and build community, yet we recognize and regret the lack of basic liberties our country is experiencing. We hope for better days very soon.
Even without a physical walk, we were able to walk the walk.
We observed Women’s International Day by connecting, collaborating and talking about things that matter. We heard the opening words of the event from Vital Voices network member, Francella Muñoz, we were then guided into an energizing moment by the wonderful yogi, Fabiola Serrano: pausing, stretching and visualizing the collaborative morning we wanted to experience.
As the morning advanced, we got to listen to a panel of three extraordinary Nicaraguan women: Rotsen López, Victoria Baez and Gema Manzanares. All young women who are doing things differently than the Nicaraguan norm and that by daring to do so are opening doors for other women and future generations to dare as well, unbounded by social standards that typically hold us back from flourishing.
After having heard how Rotsen, Victoria and Gema are challenging the status quo, we moved on to the mentoring portion of the day. 40 adult women volunteered to serve as mentors to 40 young girls between 11-17 years old. 20 of our mentors embodied human books throughout the morning, the other 20 mentors were mentoring guides in the process of visiting and reading the human books.
While the human books represented a great diversity of jobs, experiences, careers, passions and talents, the guiding mentors represented a caring figure who gave young girls the confidence to be curious and ask away to the human books, discovering in the process a variety of challenges, dreams and possibilities. We forget how abstract or simplified adult life can look to young people and we also forget how uncomfortable it is for many young people to ask questions about a part of life which is still unknown to them, especially when adults are always too busy to stop and have real conversations, or worse yet when adults are not even there.