Youth leadership and social auditing
"The biggest motivation and my biggest dream is for chronic malnutrition to decrease in Guatemala."
Joel Martínez Martínez (JM)
Most of the municipalities in the department of Chiquimula belong to the country's dry corridor, a situation that places them in a highly vulnerable position in terms of food security, since the lack of rain prevents harvests from being abundant. In addition to the above, many of its inhabitants live in situations of poverty or extreme poverty.
The youth of the department are seriously concerned about the living conditions of their communities, which is why, in the search to improve them, the youth organization is increasingly powerful.
Joel Martínez is one of those young people who have decided to change the situation in Chiquimula and who are working for it. He is from the municipality of San Juan Ermita and, for the past year and a half, has participated in the Red Pressure. He thinks that it is necessary for young people to seek to be part of social transformations and that, when other boys their age see Network members working, they feel motivated to get involved.
"When you see that one is working and all that, as it interests them ... Maybe they will say: -if he did it, I can do it too- ... And it is important that they involve, because with that we are avoiding a lot of vices, drug addiction Because they are already going to be focused on something good, something positive, that will help them for good ”(JM).
To develop their operational plans, the youth of the Network receive technical assistance from the FCOJ Program of Save the Children. As part of this support, they have been trained in various topics, among which we can mention:
• social audit,
• political advocacy,
• nutrition and malnutrition,
• effective communication, locution and means of communication, etc.
“I feel that we all have the ability to lead, but some people don't like to lead, but they are good at planning. So what we are going to do is take everyone into account, because we are all capable ... (JM).
They are currently developing a social monitoring and audit project on the actions carried out during the 1000 days window, both in families and in health posts and centers.
Monitoring with families consists of inquiring (through an interview) about the prenatal care that mothers take, their assessment of breastfeeding, the preventive medical care provided to infants during the first two years, and the feeding that is offered to them. When they are allowed to do the interview, they take the opportunity to advise families on vaccination, deworming, prevention of malnutrition in children of all ages, etc.
Joel affirms that poverty is not the only factor that determines the food security of families, so does ignorance.
"Perhaps the child is hungry, but they do not give him a meal that will nourish him. They give him money and the boy comes and goes to buy sweets, sodas. And we all know that it is not of benefit or something is going to serve him… ”(JM).
The members of the Network are also carrying out monitoring work with the nursing staff of the posts and health centers. The information that these provide them, added to the one that they have managed to gather in the interviews with the families, will help them to make decisions about their accompaniment to the effective application of the steps of the Window of the 1,000 days.
Many of the members of the Network are trying to get involved in the Community and Municipal Development Councils, so that the voice of young people is heard and their ideas are taken into account. But, although they have earned the respect of the authorities and are increasingly accepting their participation, for some of them it is still difficult to be fully welcomed in these circles. Joel has participated in meetings of the CODESAN (Departmental Commission for Food and Nutritional Security) and affirms that he has done very well and that his suggestions have been taken into consideration.
"They quite believe in youth, that in youth there are potentials and all that ..." (JM).
The youth leaders of Chiquimula know that their role is very important and they are sure that they can influence social mobilization, when there are problems to address. So they try to be very attentive to what is happening in their communities, to have a timely and effective intervention.
"For me it is like controlling what institutions are doing ... For example, the Ministry of Education ... If they are complying with classes, with school meals and all that ... So we, as young people, look at the problems that exist within our municipalities … There are some occasions when the teachers are not going to teach, so we, as young people, come in and we already see how to report it… ”(JM).
For Joel there is still a lot of work to do, he believes that it is necessary to involve more young people in the training activities. In order to prevent malnutrition, for example, which is a topic that hits his department strongly, he suggests that work be done on the training of single and young women and men, since he believes that only information is started to be given to women when they are already pregnant.
"... Because if we are going to have a family and all that, then we are going to know what to face. Because care in itself is not only for women, because we as men have to get involved ... (JM).
He considers it essential to continue with the formation of pairs, to generate an effect of contagion and trusts in the fruits of the exchange that takes place between young people, when they share learning.
“When we received the training, we made replicas. The technicians gave us the training and everything. As a driving group, we invited young community leaders… And we entered to transfer to them everything we had learned… We also learned a lot from them… ”(JM).