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Bridging youth with opportunities through technology USAID's Puentes Project

Guatemalan youth living in the Western Highlands experience poverty, violence, and a lack of educational opportunities that could improve their income potential, driving many young people to illegally immigrate to the United States.

Linda, a young woman from Aguacatán, Huehuetenango, represents this demographic. She dreamed of becoming a nurse, but getting married at the age of 16 and having children cut this short. Now 21, with two children under five, she is looking for a path to achieve her goal and create opportunities for her own children.

She found this path through USAID’s Puentes Project and its Entrepreneurship with Success Diploma, which is enabling her to receive a high school diploma. The goal of the Puentes Project is to enable youth between the ages of 15 and 24 to take control of their future by providing them with an education and the skills to access opportunities and improve their livelihoods.

The program is designed for students like Linda. It provides flexible schedules for those who have responsibilities outside of school, so they can complete their primary studies, secondary studies, and develop practical job skills on their own schedules. For Linda, this means attending the Human and Technological Development Center in her town for 10 hours a week. The center gives Linda access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) like computers, online classes, as well as one on one tutoring.

“I want to show my children that it is never too late to continue studying. I want them to see that in Guatemala you can keep pushing forward and become a professional nurse.” - Linda

Linda is just one of the 1,900 young people participating in USAID’s Puentes Project. They are earning their high school degrees as the foundation to achieve their professional goals. The program provides classes on positive youth development, citizen participation, healthy life choices, as well as personal finance management. There is also an emphasis on learning how to use ICT in the workplace. These students are motivated by the dedicated staff and take advantage of the ICT resources available to them at the center, resources that are hard to come by in rural Guatemala.

Linda plans on attaining her high school diploma and then to continue on with her technical education in order to become a nurse. While Linda does not know what the future will hold, she does feel confident that she is receiving the tools necessary and ICT skills that are in demand in the workplace to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. She is increasing her opportunities and as a result, creating a more prosperous Guatemala for her children.

The USAID Puentes Project (2017-2022) is implemented by World Vision, in partnership with the following organizations: Asociación Grupo Ceiba, Asociación Kemow Etamanik Bilingüe Intercultural (AKEBI), Fundación para el Desarrollo Integral (FUDI), FundaSistemas, Juárez y Asociados, Mundo Posible, Red Nacional de Grupos Gestores, Universidad Galileo and Vitruvian Consulting.

Created By
Benjamin Ilka
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Photos By: USAID's Puentes Project