Talía Waleska González Garth ©UNICEF Nicaragua/2015/M. García Terán
By Marta García Terán.- The words of 18-year-old Talía Waleska González Garth are enormously powerful and optimistic. “We can do anything we want to,” she says while explaining that she started the technical laboratory course in the Bilwi School of Nursing this year. “The course lasts for three years and then I want to study agroforestry engineering,” she says smiling.
Talía is a member of the Network of Child and Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), which was established in 2014 in Bilwi and Bluefields in Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast region and in Somoto and San Lucas in the country’s northern region. Talía is one of the 150 young people receiving training on preventing violence and sexual abuse through communication and social networks, new masculinities and communication for development.
“The workshops were so much fun and you learn more when you’re having fun,” Talía explains, recalling the different training sessions in which she learned communication techniques for producing prevention messages for other children. At first she thought the idea of learning by playing would not work for her, but once she struck up a relationship with the other adolescents involved she felt right at home. “I walk through the streets saying hello to a lot of boys and girls in Bilwi,” she states. “My mum tells me I’ve got a lot of friends and I tell her they’re from the Network.”
Talía was 16 when she went to her first training session. “I’d never touched a photo camera or recorded anything until I joined the Network,” she says with a smile on her face. When talking about the learning processes she has experienced, she says very confidently that “you have to try, you have to learn, and if I make a mistake I also learn from it. We have to poke around and touch things in order to learn.”
Talía also mentions that the team of facilitators from Los Cumiches, the strategy’s partner organization, has been a key element for her. “There’s friendship and trust between us and that’s something I keep in here,” she says, touching her chest. She feels that the way in which they addressed the issues of violence and human rights was crucial in making her want to continue training on the issue. “I want to know about my rights, and I want to know how to defend myself if those rights are being violated,” she stresses.
It has been important for her to know what sexual abuse is and how to prevent it because she is now aware that many kids in her neighbourhood are experiencing abuse and violence and she had never noticed before. “We children have the right to be happy, to enjoy ourselves, to live in a world without violence,” she says.
Talía now talks to other girls about the issue, advising them and sharing her knowledge with them. “I identified a girl who showed signs of suffering violence and I looked for a way of approaching her and talking to her about the subject,” she recalls. “At first she didn’t want to tell me, but I explained that I’m in the Network and that what she was going through isn’t normal.”
Talía’s family is proud of her and her little sister Cinthia, who also participates in the Network of Child and Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through ICTs. “My mum congratulated us for doing so well,” she says, remembering how she used to be shy, very different from the way she is now. “I learned there that it’s good to be in a group, to share knowledge and to learn things.”
Talía explains how before being in the Network she thought she could not do things, that she was going to get them wrong, but she has realized that she can do them. She was aware that being older than many of the teenagers attending the workshops she had to give an example, to learn and help replicate the experience. And she sums up her experience in the following way: “Everything I’ve learned in the Network helps me in life.”
The strategy of the Network of Child and Adolescent Communicators for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse through ICTs is part of the UNICEF #ENDViolenceglobal initiative for the elimination of violence against children initiated in 2013. In addition to the training sessions for adolescents, this strategy involves a process to generate a movement to create and enhance alliances around child rights in which adults and institutions still have the main responsibility for accompanying and responding to the demands made by adolescents.