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Economic Opportunities for Vulnerable Young People in Latin America

Since January 2019, ICCO Cooperation has implemented in Latin America the pilot project “Manq´a – Vuela Libre”.

Economic Opportunities for Vulnerable Young People in Latin America

“When I first entered Manq’a I felt fear. Everything was new. Now, after 5 months, I have more confidence and I feel that I have something that is mine, a degree that allows me to get a job. I also dream of opening a restaurant that offers healthy food and which offers work to other girls like me”, says Natalia, a 20 year old young woman from Bolivia.

Since January 2019, ICCO Cooperation has implemented in Latin America the pilot project “Manq´a – Vuela Libre”. This project consists out of two components:

  1. Manq’a, which promotes economic empowerment of young people in vulnerable situations by giving them training in gastronomy.
  2. Vuela Libre, which focuses on the protection and prevention of children and adolescents who are victims or at risk of (commercial) sexual exploitation.

Graduation of Basic Technicians in Gastronomy

As a first result, on January 31 in the city El Alto, Bolivia, the first generation of 31 young people graduated as Basic Technicians in Gastronomy. At a graduation ceremony they all received an official certificate. They have completed 5 months of practical training in Manq’a, a program that has trained already more than 4,000 young people as chefs in Latin America over the last 4 years.

The beneficiaries of this new “Manq´a – Vuela Libre” model are adolescents and young people (both women and men) from 16 to 35 years old identified by the Munasim Kullakita Foundation (FMK,ICCO’s partner in the implementation of the Vuela Libre program in Bolivia. The young people are selected based on three criteria:
1) they have been part of the therapeutic work process with FMK.
2) They are in a situation of high social risk and vulnerability.
3) They have few opportunities to improve their living conditions.

Training for Young Venezuelan migrants

In the coming months and thanks to the support of Kerk In Actie, the same model will be implemented in La Guajira, Colombia. Here the project will offer training and employment opportunities to young Venezuelan migrants who have been identified by the Vuela Libre Program as survivors and/or at risk of the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

“The articulation of our programs through our regional models is a strategy that allows us to expand the impact of our actions and generate alliances around our youth, expanding their economic and labor opportunities”, says Conny Toornstra – ICCO Latin America Manager.

New Manqa training in Bolivia
Photo: Ariel Tito, Manq’a Program Coordinator, and Soledad Ardaya, Vuela Libre Program Coordinator, together at the graduation ceremony.

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