Acts of violence are common in my community. I’ve seen physical violence, trauma and bullying – much of which has taken place at the hands of gangs.
In my neighbourhood, there are many gangs. They loiter on the streets, harassing boys and girls and encouraging fights. When they see us girls, they walk towards us and try to touch our hips, our shoulders and our face.
Gangs scare us. This kind of behaviour causes confidence issues and leads to a lack of self-esteem, especially for girls my age. If we wear tight trousers, we are harassed.
It’s hard to be a girl in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region of Nicaragua, as we are much more disadvantaged than boys. Men have all the power – especially at home – as they are the ones who make the decisions.
However, being part of Plan International Nicaragua’s Girl Power Project has made me realise that women are just as strong as men and that life doesn’t have to be like this. This, along with seeing people suffer from violence, is the reason I became an agent of change.
When Plan International visited my neighbourhood to tell us about the programme, I decided I wanted to change peoples’ mind-sets around violence. I wanted to develop new ideas and I wanted to help those who have suffered harassment.
Agent of change
When I became an agent of change, I noticed that one of my friends was suffering from low self-esteem. Her mother was violent towards her and her friends used to bully her. I could see she was in a low place, so I befriended the girl and she eventually told me how she was feeling. I told her to try and see life in a positive way. Since she has found someone to confide in, I have seen a positive change.
For me, it is important to support victims of violence in any way I can. If I am unable to deal with the case, I seek help from teachers, peers or those who work for Plan International. The most important thing is to support the victim in whatever way we can.
As young people, we want to be free to express who we are – but this comes with challenges. For some, parents are not supportive, others are scared of rejection.
I understand the challenges young people face. I am an only child who was raised by my mother, after my father left. I now live with my aunt, as there are more education opportunities in the main town. My father lives here in this town, but we haven’t spoken. I believe he has four children. I saw him once, but I didn’t like the way he approached me, so now I keep my distance.
Learning new things
Plan International’s training has helped in many ways. I have learnt how to interact with people and how to express myself. I now know what to do if someone is suffering violence. I enjoy learning new things and when I see someone has found happiness with my support it makes me feel good.
I am keen to continue learning and share my ideas with others. I feel confident that women can achieve all the things that men do. I am determined to keep learning and hopefully go to university one day to study psychology.
Guest post by Yuma, 15 years old, from Nicaragua