by Leonardo Fabio Navarro R. – Coordinator of the Rumbo Joven Employability Program at Alvaralice Foundation
Rumbo Joven is a program developed by Alvaralice Foundation to provide young people from vulnerable sectors with guidance and support in their life projects and help them find a job. The project was established in 2014. On March 16, 2020, it had to suspend its training program at two locations, Siloé and Potrero Grande, to comply with confinement regulations ordered by the national government. Approximately 75 students had to stay in lockdown in their homes and the staff continued to support them by telephone and virtual spaces.
The majority of our participants live in very small homes, which made the stay-at-home motto “#QuédateEnCasa” very challenging. As we moved into April, family members of our participants began to lose their jobs. Most were informal workers who were unable to continue working. Others had formal jobs, but their contracts were suspended and others were sent home with unpaid leave. We faced extremely complex situations regarding the financial and mental health of our students.
After the first two weeks of lockdown and when we realized that the possibility of returning to “normal” was receding, we carried out a psychosocial and educational monitoring plan, using phone and virtual communications to resume training. We offered students life-skills tips that allowed them to cope with the quarantine measures and create social media interventions for positive use of free time. However, the lack of technological equipment and internet access by the students led us to use one of the most famous words in this quarantine: “reinvention.” We responded with WhatsApp-mediated training where we have become closer to the students through voice notes, videos, and images, allowing us to be hyperconnected. For us this has also represented a larger time investment, as we plan new strategies and ideas in order to use this platform to build closer relationships.
After such a long confinement we continue reinventing ourselves and encouraging the participants to keep moving forward, with our support. We understand that education is not only necessary to secure jobs, but it is also essential to build meaningful lives. Education creates a solidarity-based economy and strengthens the social fabric, even in the presence of COVID-19.