Describe yourself in a few words

Nicaraguan • hardworking • challenge seeker • do my utmost always & everywhere • social communication • Social Project Coordinator • beginning entrepreneur

How did you get to know Mobile School? What was and is your role within the organisation?

I got to know Mobile School in Matagalpa, Nicaragua at Las Hormiguitas, a local organisation supporting children living and/or working on the streets. I went there myself, from the age of 10 onwards and when I was 16, Arnoud Raskin gave me and the other youngsters a training, so we could become street educators in our city with the mobile school. Later, I received more training by Mobile School, to be able to co-facilitate during trainings as well.

What was your first impression of the mobile school?

It was love at first sight when I saw how many children and youngsters are attracted by its lively colours. I immediately thought: “I have to learn how to play”! The mobile school was a box of surprises for me. I could play with it for hours on end to get to know the different games and just to have fun. I was 16 years old at the time and I realised that it had been a long time since I had really played. Working with the mobile school introduced a new chapter of my life.

How long did you work with the mobile school in Matagalpa?

I worked as a street educator for one year. We worked on the streets four times per week with the mobile school. It was an exhausting, but very interesting year. Some days I had to rush to class after a session on the garbage belt. This was probably even harder on my classmates than on me, because after some time I didn’t even smell the strong odour anymore (laughs)...
It was a year full of new experiences and I really learned a lot. My experience as a street educator changed me and turned me into a more certain, more dedicated and a more optimistic person. That year was crucial for me in deciding what I wanted to do and it helped me discover my goal.

I’m always really happy when I get the chance to co-facilitate Mobile School workshops and be a street educator again for a while, because it’s very enriching. For me it’s going back to my roots, since I was a street-connected child myself.

Junieth Machado

What is the added value of the mobile school on the streets, according to you?

The mobile school is magical, it’s a wonderful icebreaker. The biggest added value are the diverse educational games adapted to children and youngsters of all ages, all characters and all knowledge levels. The games allow children and youngsters to open up and to be themselves.  

With the games, you can have fun and learn together, even if you don’t understand a single word of what the others are saying. I personally experienced this in Iasi, Romania. It was one of my best experiences with the mobile school. Although I don’t speak a word of Romanian, I got to know many talented and cheerful children there. They taught me Romanian during the mobile school sessions and I taught them Spanish. A win-win!

Do you have a favourite game?

The goose game is my favourite game. It is a simple, easily adaptable game. Once the kids start playing the game, they’re completely absorbed in it. I played with it a lot when I was working on the municipal garbage belt, because it was the perfect icebreaker. While playing the game, I learned a lot about the children and youngsters we worked with, about their stories and their dreams.

What did you study and why?

I studied Social Communication because I wanted to have the necessary tools to bring across messages in an effective way. That way, I can help others spread their message as well and use those messages to inspire even more people. Currently, that’s what I’m doing at work on a daily basis.

What does your job entail exactly?

I’m Social Project Coordinator for a private company. I coordinate both the scholarship programme for adolescents from low-income families and the volunteer programme, in which a lot of people participate that haven’t been in contact with social work before. Besides that, I organise communication campaigns to promote voluntary work and social initiatives. My work falls under the umbrella of Corporate Social Responsibility and although it involves a lot of administrative work, it also allows me to get in contact with different people and their cultures.

Do you miss the work on the streets?

Street work is something completely different from what I’m doing now. When I work on the streets, I can open up and really be myself. In the corporate world, it’s important to be politically correct all the time, to not joke around, to dress up,... before you’re taken seriously. Those are things I miss from the streets, but what I miss mostly is discovering new stories every day.
On the streets you find inspiration, new ways of living. You learn how to overcome difficulties. People on the streets complain less and do more. I definitely miss that.

You’re a Mobile School co-facilitator. What’s your favorite workshop and why?  

The workshop on creative therapy is my favourite workshop. It’s a workshop that broadens the minds of the street educators. They discover their inner artist and learn how to inspire children through games. You give and receive a lot of positive impulses throughout this workshop and I like that a lot.

What are your plans for the future?

Study a Master’s degree in Europe (laughs) and then set up my own business in Matagalpa with single mothers and housewives. I want to offer them the opportunity to work in good conditions. That way, they can spend more time with their children, which – in the long term – will result in less street-connected children in Nicaragua.

What motivates you to keep going and to keep setting new goals?

I know a lot of wonderful women, whom are not given any opportunities. If these women would get those opportunities, they would be incredibly powerful. What I want to do, is support them, so they can discover their strength. My motor, my inner drive, is my family, without a doubt. All the women in my family are fighters and they go for what they want, with my mom in the lead.