Children International is an organisation that seeks to help children in vulnerable situations. Its mission is to break the cycle of poverty through the implementation of local programmes. The Aflatoun No Formal programme in Guatemala aims to influence approximately 1400 children in their communities to become agents of change, strengthen their entrepreneurial spirit and develop new social and financial skills. In Guatemala, this programme is being implemented in seven community centers in rural areas (Tecpán, San Lorenzo, Chimaltenango and Patulul) and urban areas (Villa Canales, Mariscal and Tierra Nueva).
The community center of Tierra Nueva, located in one of the red zones of the country, works with eight clubs with 215 children between the ages of 7 to 11 years- the largest participation is of girls. These clubs have 16 co-facilitators, who are responsible for providing training to club participants.
The programme has had a significant impact on the community and this can be seen through various indicators such as, “children feel responsible for their community.” This theme allows them to assess their problems and needs, to create resources and actions and to find solutions. In addition, gender equity among boys and girls has been strengthened, which has been evidenced by the active participation of girls in clubs.
From the perspective of the parents, encouraging comments have been received about the behavior, values and entrepreneurship that children acquire when putting into practice what they have learned in this programme. It also reflects the active participation of parents in the activities that are developed within this programme.
Social Entrepreneurship conducted with Aflatoun children – “Riegos Artesanales” (Artisanal Irrigation)
The idea of these artisanal irrigations arose from the children themselves, observing the care that the plants require mainly in the garden of the community center. The objective is to protect the plants from the sun, and water them properly so that their life cycle lasts. The participants of the Aflatoun Clubs collected plastic bottles of different sizes, to which they opened holes and then placed them in strategic places in the garden.
One of the most powerful stories during 2018 was that of Joshua, a young entrepreneur and resident of Tierra Nueva community. Joshua defined his experience by participating in Aflatoun as “incredible and unforgettable.” This experience has taught him to believe that everything is possible with dedication and effort. The young man belonged to the club of “The Stars” which as an undertaking made sales of sweets and small cakes. This activity allowed him to put planning, budgeting and spending skills into practice. It was also important to Joshua that he had the support of his mother who guided her son to be treasurer of the Club.
One of her wishes for Joshua was to attend a Youth Retreat, organised by their church. The only inconvenience that Joshua had was the cost, since at that time the economic situation of his family was not the best to cover the expenses.
Joshua put into practice what he learned in the Financial Entrepreneurship of the Aflatoun programme, including distinguishing between needs and desires. With the support of his mother he was able to sell a total of 50 small cakes weekly. To the amazement of his family and friends, Joshua was able to fulfill his goal and achieved his dream of attending the Youth Retreat.
To this day Joshua is an example for other children and adults, so much that it serves as a motivation for his mother, who started selling chumpas. She is very grateful for everything she has learned in the Aflatoun programme. Verónica participates as a community leader in her sector, and she also motivates other children who have not yet participated in this programme and helps them to investigate, explore, discover, participate and act to become future agents of change.