- Posted October 23, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
An Investment in Human Rights
The Pulsera Project is a non-profit organization that educates, empowers, and connects Nicaraguan youth with students in more than 200 US schools through the sale of colorful, hand-woven bracelets, or "pulseras" in Spanish.
We brighten US schools with art, film, and compelling cultural education while engaging students in international service that is effective, enriching, and fun.
The Pulsera Project began in 2009 when 13 friends were searching for adventure during winter break. We had been to Costa Rica in previous years (Costa Rica is just south of Nicaragua), but we suspected that Nicaragua, the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, could be a window to another world, one of profound natural beauty, famously friendly people, and deep economic poverty. Everybody in our crew wanted to surf, hike, and explore the country, but we also wanted to help in any way we could, and experience the rich human culture normally hidden from tourists.
Our Nicaraguan adventure soon became more than we had ever imagined when we discovered a shelter for former street-kids on a farm in the foothills of Managua. We visited the farm many times and we were always welcomed like we were long-lost friends. When the time came to return to the states, the youths gave us pulseras as going-away presents, and this is what inspired the founding of the Pulsera Project.
When our group returned home, we brought with us lots of pulseras and the inspiring story of the shelter youths and their art. It wasn't long before students began selling pulseras in their schools and began writing their own chapter in what continues to be an amazing adventure.
The Pulsera Project has grown and changed a lot over the past three years. Today the project is a registered US non-profit organization that supports many shelter youths, but we work mainly with a fair trade artisans’ cooperative of shelter graduates (ages 17-25) that we started in 2010---these young men and women live in a country with few employment opportunities. We also work with many independentfamilies who continue the indigenous art of pulsera making that was passed on to them by previous generations. Most recently we began partnering with a cooperative of women in Guatemala as well.
Since the sale of the first pulsera in 2009, the Pulsera Project and countless student volunteers have raised more than $500,000 for employment, empowerment, and education of many Nicaraguan and US youths. What began in 2009 as a gift of a few pulseras from young shelter youths to our group, has grown into a rich exchange among many generous people.
The Pulsera Project’s mission is to create a more just and colorful world through the education and empowerment of Nicaraguan and US youth.
We engage US students in international service to provide economic opportunities for young Nicaraguans. We also advocate for progressive ideas about international service that value economic aid as just one part of a mutual exchange that also includes the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and life experiences for the benefit of all.