“Girls and women should be protected”
Get our newsletter Dorleni, 17, from the North Caribbean Autonomous Coast Region (RACCN) of Nicaragua has become an agent of change in her community with the support of Plan International.
“Men are constantly in search of young girls, with the hope of having sex with them. Girls and women should be protected by their family and the law but the culture of machismo allows them to become victims of rape and sexual violence. It is seen as the norm and some men feel it is acceptable to behave this way.
“It is important for girls to keep a straight head and not get lured into intimate relationships. For men, it is easy. Once a girl falls pregnant, the men leave without taking any responsibility.
“It is issues like this that made me become an agent of change, with the support of Plan International Nicaragua. As an agent of change in my community, I work with Plan International to ensure young boys and girls know how to protect themselves from violence. If I see young boys and girls at risk of violence or teen pregnancy, I go and talk to them.
“I wanted to develop my skills and help my family as they were often violent towards one another. When I hear my family fighting nowadays, I try to help them see eye to eye. Its working and it encourages me to continue with my work.”
“Drugs and violence are not the answer”
Harly, 19, also from RACCN has also become an agent of change despite opposition from other boys in his community.
“There are 2 kinds of boys in my community. Those who take and sell drugs and those who behave themselves. I fall into the latter category. I am now one of the young leaders in my community.
“One of the main reasons boys get involved in drugs is because they do not know any better – and this can often lead to violence. I want my path to be different.
“Since Plan International Nicaragua has been working here, things have improved. Before, this community was very violent and sexual violence was common. I do not believe in violence of any kind and I’ve always been keen to show others why this behaviour is wrong.
“When Plan International Nicaragua launched its Girl Power Project here, it put out a call for girls who were interested in educating others about violence prevention. Then, boys got on board too.
“When the girls became agents of change, they faced a lot of resistance and bullying from their peers. You can only imagine what happened to me – especially as I have 11 brothers!
“I always gave the same answer: ‘I am doing this to help you guys.’ I’ve found that just talking to people can make such a big difference.
“I enjoy being an agent of my change and I want others to realise that violence and drug use are not the answer. I know how difficult life is in this community and how scarce jobs can be, but I am determined to make the best out of this situation. Now that I have seen how Plan International Nicaragua is dedicated to putting the needs of young people first, encouraging education and fighting sexual violence, I am hopeful that children will be able to have the future they deserve.”