Stories of Change

Top: Noel graduating as an industrial electrician, Middle: Noel with fellow football referees, Bottom: Noel performs house hold electrical installations

Noel Advocates for His Community

Story by Neyver Espindola, CERDET

“Being a young indigenous leader is not easy because we often lack space in meetings, institutions and decision-making places. However, there are also productive development and training projects where the participation of young people is crucial.”

This is the reflection of Noel Melgar, a 22-year-old Guarani youth, who has forged his path amidst the vast lands of the San Francisco Del Inti community, located within the Assembly of the Guaraní People Yaku-Igüa in the Gran Chaco region of South America.

With the support of his mother, he pursued his desire to study and become an industrial electrician. In his free time, Noel dedicates himself to performing household electrical installations and to one of his hobbies, refereeing football matches, which provides him with an additional income.

In addition to his technical skills, his active participation in the Raíces Chaqueñas Integral Training Program has transformed him into a leader. This initiative seeks to strengthen youth leadership through capacity development. Thanks to the program, he has acquired tons of new knowledge.

After the program, Noel was selected to represent his community at a national event where he shared his experience with other indigenous youth from various towns and departments. “I shared the reality in which Guarani communities live and how they adapt to climate change,” he said.

Another activity he promoted, thanks to the workshops by CERDET*, was the creation of home gardens to enable people to produce their own food. Something Noel emphasized is that during the workshops, he noticed the discrimination faced by women in his community, who still suffer physical and psychological abuse. “Raíces Chaqueñas focuses on these issues and highlights the importance of women today,” he stated.

What Noel learns, he applies to his daily life. He told us, “With my friends both in and out of university, we promote respect, socialization, participation and free expression for all young people, regardless of their race, skin color, language or origin.”

Noel expressed his gratitude to Raíces Chaqueñas for changing his perspective, and he plans to use what he has learned to continue advocating for young people. “Seize every opportunity to express yourselves and enrich your knowledge. Education is the best tool in these times of constant change.”

The Raíces Chaqueñas Program is implemented in Argentina and Bolivia by the Transborder Integrated Program, formed by the United Board of Missions Federation (JUM), the Foundation for Development in Justice and Peace (FUNDAPAZ), the Center for Regional Studies for Development in Tarija (CERDET)*, and the Indigenous Pastoral Team of Jujuy, with support from CWS.