«Starting high school at Fe y Alegría Argentina changed everything»

Don’t miss the testimony of Rocío, former student of Fe y Alegría Argentina and participant of the project Educating People, Generating Opportunities in the country, focused on favoring the employability and the labor insertion of young people in a situation of vulnerability.

My name is Rocío Choque, I am 20 years old and in 2016 I graduated from the Fe y Alegría Educational Center in my neighborhood, Solidaridad, in the outskirts of Salta Capital. I am in my third year of Psychology at the Catholic University of Salta (I have a scholarship), I participate as a facilitator in the Protagonismo Juvenil Organizado group of Fe y Alegría, and I am a tutor of the BBVA Bank Scholarship Program in high school. Since last year, I have also been a member of the new Club de Emprendimiento (Entrepreneurship Club), which began in 2018. As a result, 6 months ago with my mom we carried out «Terrapacha». I never in my life imagined that I would get to all this, sometimes I don’t have enough hours in the day for so much I want to do! And to all the good opportunities that Faith and Joy presents me, I say «Yes!» and then I see how. When I get in, I dream of working in the social field at Fe y Alegría.

«I never in my life imagined that I would get to all this, sometimes I don’t have enough hours in the day for so much I want to do!»

I am the third in a family of four children; my sister and the two boys. My sister died of cancer when I was 13…it made me grow up and realize that life is not a piece of cake. My dad is a mechanic and my mom was a housewife. Now she is also an entrepreneur like me, with all the value that means as a woman and the family novelty that is generating our own income.

«Starting high school at Fe y Alegria changed everything. Now I can’t imagine my life outside of here»

When I was born, we lived in a shack and little by little my dad built the house where we are now. For those who don’t know the neighborhood, there is a garbage dump nearby and each «stage» of the neighborhood – which is four – is the territory of different gangs. If you move from one place to another, you can have problems. Listening to gunshots was a commonplace in my childhood. I wasn’t afraid, but I still disowned my neighborhood. My mom would take me to a primary school farther away, so I didn’t know any neighbors.

Starting high school at Fe y Alegria changed everything. Now I can’t imagine my life outside of here; I know everyone, this is my place. With the money I earn from my jobs I am building my room upstairs in my parents’ house. And with the youth of Fe y Alegría we are working to transform the neighborhood: from a culture of violence to a culture of peace.

Terrapacha – which means «Land» – is our leather goods venture. We make purses, backpacks, book bags, pencil cases… Being part of the Club de Emprendimiento en Fe y Alegría opened the door for us. Among graduates and students, 8 different projects have already been developed: silk screen printing, photography, electricity, house repairs, hairdresser and cotillion, bakery, empanadas and Candy Bar service. We chose this path because Mom knew how to sew. A few years ago she had learned in a free course in the neighborhood; then she fixed our sewing machine and continued learning with Youtube video tutorials. She taught me everything she knows.

The club opened up a new world for me; we met every week to learn and receive follow-up. We have our Whatsapp group where we get very motivated, share achievements and help each other. The goal is for the ventures to be with a purpose beyond making money.

My purpose is, through Terrapacha, to add to equal opportunities. I mainly use the gender of the aguayo, so distinctive of our northern region, but often offered at prices designed for tourists, which have nothing to do with much of our population. We are doing very well! In six months we sold more than 300 items and the sale leaves us a good profit. Soon I may be able to sell in a store in Buenos Aires. Also, through friends I met at the Fe y Alegría youth meetings, some of my products arrived in Mexico, Colombia and Spain. Each product is delivered with a small package containing a seed. Seeds that I collect wherever I walk… and that I dream of becoming trees.

«Through friends I met at the Fe y Alegría youth meetings, some of my products arrived in Mexico, Colombia and Spain.»