Component: Working Children
Thirteen year old Franklin Joel isn’t your typical teenager. Instead of sleeping in past his alarm each morning, he’s up at 3 a.m. helping his aunt with household chores. Despite the fact that Franklin’s mother abandoned him when he was only five months old, he is pursuing his dreams and becoming a leader in his community in rural Nicaragua. Rather than being nagged by his grandmother to do his homework, he’s an outstanding student who tutors his younger classmates. “He communicates well with people,” says his aunt, Juana Maria, who is raising Franklin, along with her own two children, on her income of less than $2 per day. “He inspires confidence in others. I admire Franklin. He will go places.”
What accounts for Franklin’s success against abandonment and poverty? At seven years old, Franklin Joel was enrolled in Save the Children’s Children Lead the Way program where he was given his first chance to learn carpentry. Learning this skill changed his life:
“I felt important having been given this opportunity while still being a child,” said Franklin. I immediately had many ideas of what I could do with carpentry, but I have gone even farther because I teach what I know to others and participate in other activities like theatre, computers, reading, and crafts. I am like a professional!”
Last year, Franklin Joel participated in a reading contest that inspired him to become part of the Reading Promoters’ Network. As a promoter, Franklin partners with teachers to organize in-class reading opportunities for students, and works with a group of children as an after-school tutor, three times each week. On top of his own studies, chores, carpentry, and tutoring, Franklin has recently started participating in a theatre workshop, which motivated him to create a play that sheds light on domestic violence. He also graduated from a computer course, and received a scholarship for being an outstanding student.
“Being part of Children Lead the Way has helped me a great deal in developing my skills and allowing me to participate in other forums,” explained Franklin. “Before, I was very shy. Now I can speak in front of a big group of people.” Children Lead the Way hasn’t just affected Franklin, but his entire community. “[It] has a special meaning in our community and in my family. It is [because of] Children Lead the Way that there’s no violence in my house, the community is more organized, and we are able to speak up about the things that matter to us”.