An interview with Tony Llorente, 2021 Youth Champion Alumni
My name is Tony Llorente, native to the miskito indigenous peoples. I am from the community of Tuburús, located in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve – a protected rainforest known also as the “Lung of Central America”. I am currently working as Communication and Monitoring Coordinator for the Technology for Improved Learning and Education, an innovative initiative that is currently being implemented by Change for Children in the remote communities of Bosawas. I have been involved with Change for Children for more than 8 years now in different activities, all aimed to address the needs of my local people.
• Why would you recommend the Spur Change Youth Champions Program (YCP)?
Spur Change is a great program for young leaders who are seeking to create an impact on the global community. I would highly recommend this program since it has allowed me to grasp new valuable information and knowledge from experts who have addressed relevant topics and global issues. Spur Change is a space where experiences are shared and youth get the opportunity to connect, to interact and to work together towards the achievement of a common goal. Not only that, but also SMOS share their visions through this window, allowing young leaders to come together and become the action-takers of positive changes – benefiting the global community.
• How has the YCP served you the most? Which skills/knowledge have you gained throughout your participation in the program?
YCP has prepared me with important skills such as the capacity to address gender issues and indigenous rights from a different perspective and with an all-new level of knowledge. Taking the position of communication and monitoring coordinator for an innovative educational project in Bosawas, the whole set of new skills and knowledge acquired from this program such as the public speech ability and gender knowledge has helped me to better handle the project tasks. I have gained great knowledge on important topics such as feminism, gender equity and equality, international cooperation and indigenous people’s development. This course has been ideal for the work I’m currently doing. I am very grateful for having been part of such a rewarding program.
• Could you please explain/give examples of how your participation in the program led to new opportunities for engagement in efforts towards the empowerment of women and girls and the achievement of the SDGs? Have you increased your engagement? If so, how?
One of the iterations and pivots we made to the innovation we are testing was born as a result of my participation in this program. There was a need to deepen the topics of sexual reproductive health and rights for girls and boys at the schools we work with and the new strategy we used to tackle that gap, was to establish monthly girls-only and boys-only sessions where female teachers and male teachers were able to cover the topics fluently and the students were confident to be part of the process. This has increased my engagement with the community and thus, better results have been obtained for the project.
• Please elaborate on the engagement activities you facilitated.
Through my participation in this project, I gained knowledge that was widely used at schools. Gender equality and indigenous cultures, rights and traditions preservation were the most targeted topics. As a result of engaging teachers and students in this process, we have seen empowered girls and female teachers and students both girls and boys demonstrate an improved sense of identity. There were monthly training sessions established by the project I work with, and those spaces were used to introduce and reinforce gender equality concepts and mother tongue preservation.
• What is the relevance of partnering with a Canadian SMO?
Partnering up with a Canadian SMO, especially with one like Change for Children, who have served the Miskito people for years, is so relevant in the way that the partnership results in lives changed, education improved, poverty tackled, women´s rights recognized, girls educated, culture and mother tongue preserved, energy and technology divide being bridged, food sovereignty made possible, climate change issues addressed and so much more. Without a great partnership with SMOs like CFC, all this wouldn’t be possible. And the above mentioned are not actions to be taken – in fact these are the actual results obtained from the great investment of Change for Children in the region for more than 25 years now.