My name is Moises and I am 11 years old. I came to CANTERA when I was 7 years old to join the dance group. I felt nervous because it was my first time, but it was easy for me from the start. From the beginning I enjoyed the group. So I joined, and I am passionate about it. I want to be a professional dancer.
Dance has helped me because sometimes I have been asked to dance in school, and this has helped me to be responsible. I have to learn the techniques well and keep the exercises in mind. I have to behave well and not be distracted by other things, and pay attention to the teacher. I have been here for a long time because sometimes they have us do exercises and I like that. In my group there are not many men because some boys believe that dance is only for girls. But I don’t believe that. I believe that every human being has the right to enjoy her or himself. My companions in the group are nice, but sometimes they fight. One told me to join the group because she liked it and she wanted to join since she was little. She was not permitted earlier, but it is clear that she likes dance.
My teacher Gema is relaxed, friendly, and is a very responsible woman. Sometimes the professor tells us about values. One time they hid a boy’s flip-flop, and she told us how to treat each other well. Also, she says that we must not stay here for a long time after rehearsal because we shouldn’t trick our mothers. I have participated in other talks here, like those on human rights. We are born with rights. No one can take these rights away from us. We also have duties along with our rights. I also have learned about bullying. I’ve learned that there are many cases of bullying and discrimination here in Nicaragua.
It is important for children to have a space for dance so they can see what dance is, so they can enjoy themselves, and so they can get exercise. I want to continue coming to CANTERA because I really enjoy it a lot.
My name is Gerardo (age 17) and I am part of the Cantera youth movement in Ciudad Sandino. My biggest passion right now is theater. The theater workshops have helped me greatly in my personal life. We don’t just learn about acting, but also the environment, violence, human trafficking and other things that are affecting our society. I have traveled to other regions of Nicaragua to perform and have participated in many national festivals where we even achieved high standings as a group!
We as a group also give workshops in the public schools. This was an idea that we had because we wanted to pass on what we learned in Cantera and allow other youth to experience it as well. It has been a really cool process and we have seen a lot of interest in the students. As a group we really give it our all and the youth respond well and are fast learners. I feel it has been an experience that has helped us to grow and move forward as a group.
I think that theater can be used as a tool to raise awareness within the community because it draws a lot of attention from the audience and allows us to transmit a message to them. We are able to raise awareness about a certain issue from their point of view. We perform within the inner-city neighborhoods and the outskirt communities. We try to reach the populations that are most affected by the issue we are presenting.
A little while back we had a performance with the Mobil Police Station in a rural area. It was very impactful to the public because there were female representatives who shared their testimonies of real life experiences in front of the police and the community. They shared their experiences of suffering and proclaimed that they were able to break the silence. They also explained that it was a process and it wasn’t easy. Witnessing their stories and seeing the reaction of the public motivated us to continuing working in favor of our community.
I believe we can achieve change because in our works we are representing true stories, things that do exist and are happening in our community; we express what is happening and how we can change it.
In our latest work about violence, “Nacatamales de Doña Dora,” we took diverse cases and tried to show people that we should not accept violence as something normal. That a pinch, a shout, a hit, are all forms of violence and are not normal. That we can’t just let them happen, that we can’t keep our mouths shut, and that just because we are young doesn’t mean we are going to remain silent.
Today I attended a workshop regarding the Law 779 which is the integral law protecting the rights of women. Even though it has been around for about two years, it was still something that had been a challenge for me to understand. After the recent workshops I feel like I have more answers to give my community. Now when they ask me questions or have doubts after a performance, I feel like I can more easily respond and give them correct information regarding their rights.
In the formation activities I have learned to not be as violent, to change my machista attitude and enter into a culture of peace. I like to be part of the youth movement because it helps me a lot in the area of my studies, and it also helps me in what we call change. They say that change begins with you; I can’t go off and raise awareness with others if I am not conscious of what I am doing.
One of the important things that the facilitator of this workshop told us was that just because we were raised to be machista and violent people, we as human beings have the ability to rationalize. We have the ability to make the decision to be or not to be violent. This is very important because we all grew up in a violent environment, so if there are people who exert violence and people who don’t, then it is possible for us too to decide, and not just excuse it and blame our actions on the fact that since we were raised to be machista and violent.
I think one of the biggest ways I can give back for all that I have learned is sharing my knowledge and awareness with other youth. On a personal level, I feel like I have benefited greatly in my studies. Now I understand better and am able to communicate about different themes such as the environment, violence, laws, etc. When I have to give a presentation in class I am able to express myself clearly and confidently about the topic and connect with my audience. Expression is very important because you are able to gain the attention of those listening including the teacher.
I have been part of the theater group for about eight years now and I still am learning and discovering new things about myself and our society.
My name is Xochilt. I am 17 years old and from Ciudad Sandino, a municipality outside of the capital city. I am currently pursuing a degree in psychology in Managua and thanks to the CANTERA Beca program, I am able to pay for transportation into the city, supplies, books, and printing - all things I need to do well at university. Seven years ago, I started in CANTERA as a volunteer in the community library and I loved my experience there because of the strong companionship that I felt with the other volunteers. Now, I am a community advocate, participate in Karate, and I continue serving as a volunteer at the community library. My participation in CANTERA allows me to have a space where I can share my ideas, benefit others, and above all, be myself and dream big.
My name is Orisis and I am 10 years old. I study at Roberto Clemente School. I belong to the games group in CANTERA with our teacher Eda Ocampo. I almost don’t remember the first time that I came to CANTERA because I have been here for so long. My sisters Karina and Julia brought me to CANTERA five years ago when they came to activities or their karate classes, and I have always come to participate in crafts, games, and other activities.
In the games group we come to play and share with others. We play with scooters, jigsaw puzzles, and balls. We draw, and play other games. We behave well in the group because we share among ourselves, we enjoy ourselves, and we chat among ourselves. Sometimes we go to the park and play with the equipment that is there. The park is a mess because some children do not care for it. We must care for the park because if not, we are not going to have a place to play. I am a monitor in the games group. I hand out the games and help the children with things they can’t do. I also play with them and help Mrs. Eda. I continue participating because I like to come, and I feel good here because I come to play with the others.
Sometimes the teacher talks to us about gender, that we are all equal. I do believe that we are equal, without regard to skin color. We don’t only participate in the games group, but also in the workshops. We talk about values and the rights that we have. The rights that we have are the rights to play, to a home, and a name. It is important to know these rights because that way we can let others know about the rights that we all have.
In the future I want to better myself, and I plan to do that by going to school, studying, and getting good grades. I want to follow the example of my parents. And finally, I want to say thank you because you have helped me with the backpack of school supplies which I really needed to go to my school.
" My name is Anthony; I am 19 years old and live in Zone 6 of Ciudad Sandino, a municipality just a little outside of the capital city of Managua. I live with my very large family! There are a total of 12 of us in the house – my mother, father, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews. I would describe the people in my community to be very hard working, sociable and friendly. And although not all is cheery and bright, I appreciate where I am from and desire to become a great leader within my community to create positive change.
I first found out about CANTERA in Ciudad Sandino about nine years ago when a few youth of the organization at the time invited me to participate in some of the sociocultural activities that CANTERA offered such as dance, theatre, music, community library, etc. I started out taking music classes and then began participating in theatre which has been my passion for the past several years. In my free time, I love to do theatre, study English and also participate in the workshops that CANTERA has to offer. I love being part of CANTERA because it is a space where I can be myself, a space where my opinions matter and a space where I can practice theatre and share my passion for theatre by teaching young children at the center.
CANTERA has taught me many skills about different issues that I have been able to apply as a theatre teacher and also in my studies. Currently, I am studying accounting at the University of Managua thanks to Friends of Cantera. With the support I receive, I am able to buy materials needed for my classes and to pay for my bus fare to and from Ciudad Sandino and my university in Managua. I am so grateful for the support I receive because one day I would like to have my own business. My hope for this business is to help children who need economic support and also teach them the importance of violence prevention and gender equality which I have learned in CANTERA.
My father is someone I admire greatly as he has taught me great lessons about life. He taught me to never give up on my dreams or my desires and to do the best I can to achieve those dreams. Every day, I am getting closer and closer to reaching these dreams and I am forever grateful for the opportunities that CANTERA and Friends of Cantera have provided me over the past several years."
My name is Paola and I am originally from the community of La Ceiba in the municipality of Mateare. Since I was young, I grew up hearing about Cantera’s activities and I always accompanied my mom when I was little to the meetings and gender workshops and other workshops that Cantera gave in our community. Later, I continued to learn and incorporate into my own life the perspective that we as women should develop our-selves and secure our future, and through this help our family and have a better life.
Currently, I am helping teach in one of the two small schools that are here in the community. I really like to help the boys and girls learn how to read and write. This is an activity that I really enjoy doing and that is why I am studying to get a degree for Primary Education at the Normal School (Teacher’s College) Alesio Blandon in Managua.
To get to the college I have to leave my community walking on Friday, in order to spend the night at my aunt’s house in Ciudad Sandino (a town closer to Managua). The next day, I have to take two busses to get to class, and to finish the journey I return to my house in the community of La Ceiba where I arrive around 7:00 at night. Thanks to the support of Cantera, I am also a bee keeper and a member of the multiple services beekeeping cooperative La Dulce Miel (Sweet Honey). Right now I have twelve beehives, all of which have produced honey which I have harvested. Also, I have participated in a few courses which trained us in the processing of honey products and fruit processing.
In the community we have organized ourselves in different ways. One of these ways is the Ecological Brigades through which we plan community clean-ups and training sessions to raise awareness around moderating the use of wood-burning stoves. Also, we have promoted the use of wood-saving stoves because I believe that we should protect the small amount of forest that remains for us.
As a young woman, I have many dreams I want to achieve, and Cantera is supporting me so that little by little I will achieve them. The scholarship that I receive helps me to cover the costs of transportation and food in my weekly trips to Managua to study because for my mom this would be very difficult. The crops that are harvested help us cover our daily food needs, but would not be enough to support me in these costs necessary to study. I thank you and I love you with all my heart.