U.S. Ambassador Phyllis M. Powers joined Fundacion Fenix to celebrate their drug prevention program in Managua today at an event that involved remarks by the Ambassador, awarding of certificates to participants, a tour of Fundacion Fenix’s farm, and a press conference given by the Ambassador alongside the President of Fundacion Fenix, and two youth participants.
With the support of the U.S. Embassy in Managua, the year-long drug prevention program reached more than 16,000 people living in the vulnerable areas of Ciudad Sandino, Mateare, Los Brasiles, and districts one and two of Managua. The program used a multi-faceted approach to increase drug awareness as well as youth development, involving not only at-risk youth, but also parents and teachers. Fundacion Fenix’s initiative worked to tackle the root causes of drug use and violent behavior by imparting effective parenting and teaching strategies to keep kids off drugs and help them become valuable members of society. Development of life-skills and economic empowerment of participants was also essential to the program’s success; the participants planted and harvested 1,600 papaya plants and 350 plantain plants, and Fundacion Fenix awarded 174 scholarships to at-risk youth in the areas of mechanics, handicrafts, manicure and pedicure, English, and music.
Previously, the U.S. Embassy’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) program worked with Fundacion Fenix in 2011, with the implementation of a three-month project: “Comprehensive Drug Prevention Campaign for adolescents in Ciudad Sandino and Mateare”. The program included the purchase of two greenhouses, and the proceeds from the sale of vegetables allowed Fundacion Fenix to finance a drug prevention campaign in 2012. That successful pilot project led the way for this project with Fundacion Fenix and other civil society partners. Late last year, the INL Program at the U.S. Embassy provided close to four million dollars towards citizen security and drug demand reduction projects, including a continued partnership with Fundacion Fenix.
In addition to this project, in the Managua area, INL is partnering with the University of Tennessee – Knoxville and Casa-Nica to develop and deploy citizen security and drug demand reduction education with adolescents. On the Caribbean Coast, INL is partnering with other U.S. and locally-based NGOs that are working with local educational institutions such as the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast and the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University to provide expanded community security and youth leadership training to strengthen local populations struggling to deal with rising crime and violence.