Monday, February 6, 2017

Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Empowers Paraguayan Youth

Like many places in the world, Paraguay is a country of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.  Tremendous inequality exists between urban centers like Asunción that have access to basic amenities like clean water, electricity, education, and internet access to people outside the city living in rural areas. There are many other challenges as well and Partners of the Americas is helping address one of them - child labor. Partners’ is implementing the Paraguay OKAKUAA, a 3-year cross-sector project between the central, departmental, and district governments in the Department of Guairá. project. It is funded by the US Department of Labor and focuses on addressing child labor issues in the sugarcane industry.  Partners' USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program is collaborating with this effort.  F2F volunteer Lauren Hrncirik traveled to help start a 4-H program to help OKAKUAA meet one of it's objectives - to improve educational opportunities for children and youth in rural areas.

A fisherman rows his boat along polluted waters of  
La Chacarita in Asunción, Paraguay, Apr. 19, 2013.
Photographer: Tomas Munita/The New York Times
Lauren worked closely with a large Paraguayan NGO called CIRD that’s a key player in the fight against child labor. The concept of 4-H is not new in Paraguay - at one point, there was a thriving “4C program” that was slowly shut down in the 80s/90s. Now, there is a large scale effort by CIRD to revitalize the program.

In addition to working with CIRD, Lauren met with FECO PROD (Federación de Cooperatives de Producción), an organization interested in supporting youth programs and partnering with CIRD, and with the Peace Corps. She discussed the potential for a “train the trainer” 4-H program in which CIRD would provide the educational resources and support to train other community organizations and leaders in 4-H program methodology which would lead to the creation of 4-H clubs across the country. Peace Corps invited CIRD to deliver 4-H training to their 200 volunteers serving around the country. In addition to helping to lay the groundwork for scaling up the 4-H program countrywide, Lauren worked hard to create and compile over 50 4-H education resources in Spanish. She also designed and delivered 9 hours of hands-on-training in Spanish on 4-H youth development methodology to 15 new Paraguayan educators working in Guairá on the OKAKUAA project. She even appeared on a local radio station together with CIRD to present the progress on the project

Learn more here:
Lauren ended her trip feeling accomplished! “I did not feel like a stranger or a visitor. I truly felt like I was a part of the family. Overall this assignment was a tremendous growth opportunity for me, traveling and living outside of my comfort zone.” Her optimism for CIRD’s capacity to use their networks, resources, and desire to reorganize the 4-H programs provides hope for the future of youth empowerment in the country.

Read more about how Farmer-to-Farmer has helped 4-H here

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