Proyecto El Nido
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) states that “Teenage pregnancy is usually not the result of a deliberate decision; it is the result of a lack of options.” Teenage pregnancy is a public health issue and it is considered as one of the main causes that perpetuates the cycles of generational poverty. When a teenage girl gets pregnant, she becomes vulnerable to poverty, exclusion and dependency.
There are several causes for high rates of teenage pregnancy: lack of education, poverty, lack of job opportunities, violence against women, gender inequality, among others. Teenage pregnancy rates are one of the main causes of generational poverty in Colombia. Colombia has had some improvements and has become a a medium-income country, but inequality keeps on being a critical factor. The United Nations Development program (UNDP) reported that Colombia is one of the most unequal countries in Latin America. It is important to note that inequality is not limited just to the differences in socio-economic status, but it is composed by various dimensions such as ethnic, gender, access to education, etc.
The department of Quindío, located in the center of Colombia, has been ranked in the top three departments in Colombia with the highest rates of unemployment for 6 years in a row. In addition, the region has experienced an accelerated population growth rate caused by the displacement of people due to the armed conflict and the massive arrival of Venezuelan refugees. The high population growth rate in the region has consequently caused extra pressure on the social services and further deteriorated the quality of life, augmenting the number of people living in extreme poverty.
There are several studies that identify teenage pregnancy as one of the main factors of generational poverty. This is due to the fact that when a teenage mom grows under poverty conditions and lack of sexual education, there is a high probability that she will get pregnant again. In the department of Quindio, we have seen cases of girls who had their first born at 14 and when they turned 22 they had five children. These children often grow in harsh conditions and are vulnerable to violence, malnutrition and often end up becoming part of armed groups or robbing in the cities. These children often become teenage parents themselves. The high rates of teenage pregnant girls in Quindío in areas of the department of extreme poverty portrays this relationship.
The project El Nido was created to break the cycle of poverty caused by teenage pregnancy. This project was created by the NGO Zonaj (www.zonaj.net) in 2017 and since Armenia's hub was created we have been working together to help them increase their impact.
First time pregnant and vulnerable teenagers between 10 and 19 years old in the city of Armenia, Quindío, Colombia.
Proyecto El Nido (https://proyectoelnido.org/) is a social program that provides a wholesome service of accompaniment in the pre and post-partum phases of first time pregnant teenagers between the ages of 10 and 19 years who come from vulnerable conditions in the city of Armenia, Quindío, Colombia. The projects main objectives are to empower the teenage mothers and aid them in order for their babies to grow in conditions of equality, respect and dignity.
In order to accompany teenage moms from vulnerable conditions in Armenia, Quindio, and promote their integral development, as a hub we have created this alliance with the project in order to give the moms food, workshops and connect the project leaders with the stakeholders in the city and the world. As a hub we are also helping the projec to raise the funds necessary to buy the house were the project is located and it is currently being rented.
Education: is a key component of the project since the model of intervention has focused specifically in the education of vulnerable pregnant teenagers, in order for them to be able to finish their studies and be economically independent as well as sexually responsible individuals. This is done through courses, workshops in which the Armenia's global shapers will serve as volunteers and teachers along with other education institutions such as SENA (www.sena.edu.co)
Advocacy: Teenage mothers frequently feel overwhelmed and powerless when facing this new phase of their lives. This is why they need answers, resources, and support. The project provides them with the knowledge of their rights such as the right for equal opportunities, protection, health, love and education among others.
Empowerment: We have noticed that hopelessness perpetuates the cycle of pain, suffering, guilt and fear. Hence the project works to offer hope for the future for these mothers and their children through a program that provides psychological and emotional strengthening. We encourage them to finish their studies and teach them skills/arts/crafts to facilitate the process of getting their own income.
Each group of teenage moms (around 16-20 per group) is part of the project for a two years duration, in those years the project includes three phases:
Phase 1(6 months): When the teenager is pregnant, we meet with them twice a week for 3 hours in which we have psychosocial workshops on their life’s projects helping them get empowered and create a vision for their lives. We also have workshops where we help them with their high school courses (tutoring), workshops where we help them with their professional orientation, and many other topics. In addition, according to the initial psychological evaluation done by the NGO’s psychologist, the adolescent will have psychological support if necessary, also a volunteer from the project will be making follow ups on her progress. A baby shower is also held where each of the beneficiaries is given a kit for the birth of their babies.
Phase 2 (6 months): in this stage the babies have already been born hence we meet only once a week, here we seek to strengthen the bond between mother and baby, so although we work on the same issues of phase 1 we deepen more in the stimulation processes of the baby, lactation, etc. Most of the phase 1 workshops continue but are covered through video tutorials for the teens to study at home. Individual visits to their houses are also done in this phase.
Phase 3 (1-year duration): in this period of time we seek that adolescent moms can acquire work adaptation tools and complete the life project vision board that they have been working on since phase 1, obviously without leaving aside the other areas aforementioned. In this phase the focus is on workshops where they learn skills, arts crafts, and even basic English, that are going to help them to gain financial independence.
Transversal to all the phases, the adolescents are given a monthly humanitarian aid of food, diapers and clothes. We also provide them with support so that they can access basic health services for themselves and their babies.
Additionally, a medical set of actions are carried out in the project that aim to guarantee the well-being of adolescent mothers and their children, to contribute to the development of a healthy life and the prevention of conditions that alter it.We seek to promote self-care practices, healthy lifestyles, adequate nutrition and the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights. In alliance with Bienestar Familiar, which is an institution of the Colombian State, we provide them with sex-ed courses and methods of contraception.
Short & Long-Term Goals/Results:
Teenage moms as beneficiaries of the project will:
- Develop their social and emotional skills.
- Manage their sexual life in a responsible way.
- Develop the skills needed to properly care for their babies.
- Have access to medical attention.
- Return to school in order for them to finish their highschool education process.
- Receive entrepreneurship training focusing managing skills to generate their own income.
The babies born as beneficiaries of the project will:
- Receive breastfeeding during their first year of life.
- Be properly stimulated in order to develop their cognitive, language, motor and social-affective skills.
- Receive professional surveillance of their growth and development.
- Have access to health services.
- Have a caring mother who is able to provide them with the emotional and social skills needed.
Since the project started in 2017 it has provided help to 115 teenage moms, their babies and families.
From those 115 girls only 2 have had another baby after being part of El Nido project, which is one of the best indicators of the breaking of the poverty cycle.
Armenia's hub started helping the project in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic to continue to provide the humanitarian aid to the 16 girls that are currently in phase 2, and we will be providing workshops for their proffesional development in phase 3 in 2021. Shapers have visited the houses of some of the mom's to provide them food and clothes.
The main need the project is the high amount of money it spends in paying rent of the house where the project is hosted, money which could be best invested in helping more teenage moms in the city. So, in February of 2021 we officially launched our campaign to buy the house El Nido has been renting as the permanent home for the El Nido (The Nest) pregnancy project.
Our goal is to help them raise the $200,000 USD by May of 2022 to buy the house that serves the project well and has given it the ability to receive, organize and send out many donations, provide housing to one of the teen girls and her 4 year old son who had no place to stay, and have team meetings.
Once the building is owned by the project, the idea is to have a coffee shop in the first floor of the house where the girls will be able to work and/or sell things to provide for themselves and their little ones.
We are very excited about our future plans for El Nido and helping them grow as a hub, but know we have a long way to go to raise the money needed, which is why we started the Build the Nest campaign. The house is 370m2 and we decided that we would launch a campaign that would allow people to donate generally, or they could purchase square meters for $540 USD each meter. Please join with us and together we can build the Nest!