An estimated two million out-of-school youth struggle to enter the workforce in Guatemala because they lack necessary life or vocational skills. Additionally, less than 30% of poor, rural indigenous girls attend secondary school.

Project partner Cadanino has made it their primary mission since 2007 to provide educational and vocational opportunities for orphans and vulnerable youth in order to help them on their path to becoming well-adjusted, successful adults, pursuing gainful employment and contributing positively to society. Current training programs include: culinary arts, woodworking, engineering and computer skills. Classes are held at the orphanage Fundaninos and the VETC (Vocational Educational Training Center) in Colonia Santa Fe, Guatemala City. Over 150 students participated during this past year.

At the “Skills for Life Woodworking Academy,” students learn to use a variety of tools and create wooden pens, artistic pieces and furniture. Advanced students learn digital fabrication through Computer Number Controlled (CNC) engineering and vetric design software, creating 3D projects out of wood. Culinary arts classes introduce orphans to new cuisine, making baked goods and gourmet meals, while also emphasizing healthy nutrition. SFL has also assisted several schools and orphanages with setting up their IT labs, to equip the children with valuable computer skills, relevant to today’s competitive job market.

Learning basic microenterprise skills is an important component of each of the training programs, teaching the students to design, create, market and sell their products. Cadanino also establishes partnerships with local businesses and service organizations to provide orphans with opportunities for internships and employment after graduation. Some have become credentialed teachers or educational instructors at orphanages, becoming outstanding role models to the younger ones of reaching higher and overcoming in spite of obstacles.