Belkis Medina Vicente, 36, lives in our partner community of Caimonial, DR with her seven children ranging in age from 4-22 years old. Three of her children, Jose, 17, Celanny, 19, and Alexis, 14, participate in Bridges’ youth program. Belkis, whose family works in agriculture and does not know how to read or write herself but is learning through a government program, is incredibly grateful to the youth program for the many benefits it has provided her children who participate. Belkis says, “My children have learned a lot through the program. They have opened up and become more confident…They have even traveled with the program to San Juan. They have gained the knowledge and know-how to talk and socialize with others [from different parts of the country and world]. I want them to continue to study, go to university, become professionals, better their lives and be happy.”
Celanny is the current president of the youth committee in Caimonial where she motivates other youth to participate and will graduate from high school this year. She feels that she has learned so much and been shaped by her participation in the Bridges youth program. Celanny says, “Through the youth program, I have learned so much. I am studying English on Saturdays with Carlos [the Youth Center Director]. I took a computer class, and we have received lots of different workshops on leadership, self-esteem, entrepreneurship and our goals for life. We as youth have learned about how sometimes we act without thinking, and this brings lots of consequences. I have learned how to communicate with people better and how to introduce myself to others. As president of the youth committee, I have learned leadership skills, and I motivate other youth to join in and grow and develop. All of us youth have learned that we are intelligent, but we didn’t know it or think very much of ourselves before. We have learned to participate and not be afraid or shy.”
Before participating in the youth program, Celanny did not have defined goals for her life. Now she wants to study and become a professional; she says, “After I graduate [high school], my goal is to study math education at a university in Bani on Saturdays so that I can [live at home and] help my family during the week.” With pride, Celanny tells us that she likes math a lot and learns fast, so she would like to be a math teacher and teach other youth while also helping her family to have a better life.