Stories of Change

Metalworking at the workshop.

Welding a brighter future in a remote part of Argentina

Only about 150 families live in the Independencia neighborhood of Argentina’s remote La Banda municipality. Everyone here faces a number of challenges, but young people are particularly feeling the weight of unemployment and not having training courses or ways to build skills. That’s why a group of young people took matters into their own hands in 2017.

With help from some of their neighbors and the municipal government, they started a garden and a place to make and sell concrete blocks. The income from these activities support a metalworking workshop that offers work and training to young people.

But they didn’t stop there. In 2018, the group applied for a Communities in Action grant. CWS and our partner CREAS offer these grants to groups in Argentina and Bolivia like the one in Indepedencia. We look for programs that are helping women or youth as well as their larger community. Their proposal was accepted, and they received the grant of 50,000 Argentine pesos (just over $1,100).

The group members used the grant to purchase new equipment, increase the training that they offer and market their products. “We had a few tools, and with this grant we acquired some key elements to make our activities more productive,” says Janvier Villanueva, a 29-year-old workshop member. “We streamlined tasks and improved working conditions by buying protective equipment like masks and gloves.”

They used the money to help train other young people in the neighborhood, too. “We carried out four training sessions on metal mechanics and assembling blocks for schools in the area,” Janvier says. “We also trained women who are responsible for community kitchens and the secondary school on how to produce ecological ovens.”

Abigail, 24, is a mechanical metal technician and is studying social work. She’s one of three female members of the workshop and affirms how important the workshop is to the community. “The dynamics of the workshop mobilized the neighborhood,” she says. “Now they know us everywhere. Communities in Action was the impetus we needed to grow and improve. The guidance and economic support that this program gave us helped us a lot to direct the proposal.”

In July, the team had a tent to sell their products at a major artisan fair in a nearby city. “We feel privileged to participate in this fair,” says Jorge, another workshop member. “It is an important opportunity because we can offer our own products and make ourselves known.”

In addition to the workshop members, another four young people have received training at the workshop and gone on to find other works. Each one now has a salary, and they say that their time at the workshop helped prepare them for their careers.