The Vulnerable Youth of Nicaragua Take the Road to Recovery Through Music and Sports: HPC Fellow, Andrea Cornejo

Andrea Cornejo is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with Casa Alianza Nicaragua. At Casa Alianza Nicaragua, Andrea enriched her professional and human experience through assisting staff in the recovery process of the vulnerable youth in Nicaragua. Read on and learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

I am a young Nicaraguan woman who graduated from a Jesuit university in industrial engineering many years ago. During my time at university, I participated as a volunteer in 2 projects: the chapel´s university choir and Chateles, a project that coordinated university students to offer school support to children from at-risk neighborhoods once a week. Now it appears very coincidental how both music and children support cross again on my life journey.

In June of 2019, I started my fellowship in Casa Alianza Nicaragua, an organization which mission is to protect and advocate for children, adolescents and youth who face difficulties due to issues of homelessness, drug consumption, early pregnancy and who have been victims of neglect or violence.

Thanks to the Hilton Prize Fellows Program, I have assisted the Development Director in many tasks including fundraising, mapping and updating a potential donor’s database, contributing to proposal writing, the elaboration of project´s final or mid-term reports for external donors and, occasionally, English-Spanish translations.

This experience has enriched my professional skills in proposal writing which are transversal and can be applied to various types of organizations. Also, along the possibilities of professional development is the human experience which will most likely end with the highest marks from my fellowship. These months have broadened my perspective on the social issues that affect the vulnerable youth of my country.

During my time as an HPC fellow at Casa Alianza, I have been touched by the commitment their educators and their staff had towards their mission and the resilience of the youth once they have been given an opportunity to recover and heal.

I had the opportunity to accompany staff and adolescents in three environments: the residence for adolescents, the residence of teenage mothers and children and the streets −­specifically one of the main city markets− where a special team identify and visits youth at risk, usually in situation of homelessness and/or drug consumption, to engage them and eventually get them to integrate to Casa Alianza´s program.

This last experience really demonstrated how important it is to offer accompaniment to youth, and how ludic activities developed with respect and open minds and hearts can make a difference for the day or for the life of our most vulnerable youth.

My experiences at Casa Alianza made me value its approach to guide and support the process of healing and recovering of youth. This is unique in the country as they integrate the use of sports, music and other forms of arts.

During my time with young mothers, they expressed how much they were enjoying music lessons.  I also witnessed teachers and student’s drive and amusement for sports.  Thanks to Judy, an American athlete who runs a NGO and who is long-time friend of Nicaragua and Casa Alianza I knew first-hand how far and how big the impact of a dedication to sports can mean for adolescents such as the ones Casa Alianza serve.

It brought me great satisfaction that I could contribute in writing a grant proposal directed to get the funds to support music and karate lessons for adolescents in both residences. These are not just extra-curricular activities but an important part of the day-to-day for teenagers. These moments can make a positive difference in their everyday lives, as they may forget theirs worries and be in the present. In the long-term, music or sports can become a passion or profession that will help them for the rest of their lives. Also, they would help them in developing a positive, healthy lifestyle, a positive community of friends or colleagues and potential source of income. It has been a privileged experience -specially under the current sociopolitical crisis impacting Nicaragua- to be able to help an organization such as Casa Alianza Nicaragua in searching and securing the necessary funds to maintain their core program and the services they provide to the youth, including music and sports lessons. Their service to our youth is more necessary now and contributes to build the hope for a better future in Nicaragua. 

(Photos courtesy of Casa Alianza)

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. The Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat,  Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit  prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact  prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and  LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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