ICCO Opens ‘MISKA’ in Guatemala: a Cooking and Entrepreneurship School
ICCO has opened the first Cooking and Entrepreneurship School in Guatemala called ‘MISKA’. The school in Carchá – which manages to give also online training during COVID-19 – is a way for young people to become empowered and have better opportunities to start their own businesses or access to decent employment.
In Guatemala, 64 young people from rural communities and indigenous populations started in March the training and learning process at MISKA. The participants receive training from gastronomy professionals, who share their strategic and creative knowledge and experiences.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the training at the MISKA school has to be reviewed, because face-to-face classes were not allowed anymore. Using technological tools and new platforms, MISKA has started to give online gastronomic training, where students participate and practice gastronomic techniques from their home. The project supports those students who do not have internet access at home, through monthly data reloads, so that they can access virtual classes, download and upload educational documents.
Provision of Food Baskets
Another important aspect of the project, in response to the growing impact of the pandemic on food systems and local economies, is the provision of food baskets to students. This food basket can be used for their training, but at the same time it also feeds the students and their families. In this way, one of the main objectives of MISKA is promoted: the consumption of local healthy products which is prepared by students.
COVID-19 Affects Personal Situation
Many students are also personally affected by the pandemic, in terms of employment and financial situation. A small research among the students showed that 75% of the students’ parents were suspended from their jobs. 80% of the students who had a job lost their job as well. Approximately 30% of the students are married and they reported that their spouses have lost their jobs and that saving funds are running low. 75% of all students have expressed that they suffer anxiety and stress, and 60% no longer have the resources to pay for telephone and internet services. The training offers students ideas for alternative ways of income generating and it also gives young people a goal in their daily life.
An Innovative Model that Generates Opportunities for Youth
Over the last 6 years ICCO has trained more than 4,500 young people as chefs and gastronomic entrepreneurs through 14 cooking schools in Latin America. The schools offer better economic opportunities for youth and new healthy eating habits. As ICCO we are aware that the context of the pandemic represents a great challenge for youth. Today more than ever, it is necessary to offer an innovative model that generates new and better opportunities for a new generation committed to local and community development.
The school is an initiative in cooperation with Kerk in Actie, YMCA – Guatemala and the Talita Kumi Foundation.