ProActividad - not just waiting to be helped!
R.I.D. Camejo Gonzalez1, C. Contreras2, H.A. Jimenez Garcia3, P. Rivera4, W.J. Tavarez5
1YurWorld - Youth in the Real World, Coordinación, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 2Centro de Orientacion e Investigación Integral-COIN, Education, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 3YurWorld - Youth in the Real World, Education, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 4YurWorld - Youth in the Real World, Social Work, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 5YurWorld - Youth in the Real World, Projects, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Issues: Marginalized youth are a vulnerable population with complex needs. Many face poor employment prospects, uncertain futures and lack basic skills. HIV positive youth are especially vulnerable. These youth have little recourse when they are denied jobs or lose them based on their HIV status.
Description: Through a self-help initiative called “ProActividad” we have launched a social enterprise to provide employment opportunities and job training for marginalized youth. “ProActividad” reinvests profits into the community. It is both a training facility and a commercially run enterprise including a fully equipped print shop. It provides youth the opportunity to learn work, life skills, job connections, and career development assistance. It aims to improve the skills and employability of marginalized youth encouraging them to develop enterprise capability, communication and planning skills. The youth are paid entry-level wages and are accountable for duties and responsibilities similar to those of any ordinary business venture.
Lessons learned: To effectively target marginalized youth it requires more than providing prevention and treatment to combat HIV/AIDS. It is also necessary to takle the underlying structural issues that heighten their vulnerability.
When provided with opportunities marginalized youth have shown that they are capable and talented. In the first six months of operation ProActivity has had contracts for over US$60,000. It's varied portfolio includes commissions to develop and print IEC materials distributed throughout the Caribbean, and make a documentary on youth and transactional sex in Haiti and the Dominican Republic that was filmed and produced by a crew including HIV positive youth trained in camera use and production.
Next steps: The results of ProActividad will be used to advocate for a national response that more fully recognizes the inter-relatedness of health and other valuable social ends such as education, employment, and civil rights.
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