From Elementary School Teacher to a Recognized Human Rights Activist
As a teacher, Mirna (23 years), better than anyone, knows that formal education alone does not address the structural problems of communities, nor does it develop critical thinking in students. Therefore, you need youth organizations, in which Mirna has been participating.
Mirna Patricia Pú Guerrero is a 23-year-old elementary school teacher who works with poor children in a community on the southern coast of Guatemala. Here, agribusiness and tourism flourish, but the region also faces serious challenges such as environmental contamination, unemployment and violence; the latter associated in many cases with drug activity.
As a teacher, Mirna, better than anyone, knows that formal education alone does not address the structural problems of communities, nor does it develop critical thinking in students. Therefore, you need youth organizations, in which Mirna has been participating.
The National Youth Front involves many young people from different regions within the country, with diverse thoughts, ethnical and cultural background, problems and challenges, worldviews, etcetera. As a result of Mirna´s participation within this space of joint learning and sharing experiences, she recognizes to have a better understanding of the realities the country faces. Mirna says: "In the National Youth Front, we create collective strategies against the violation of the rights of youth, thanks to the technical support provided by SODEJU (1). Our challenge is to make our work even better visible next year. In that way we will become the representatives of youth towards authorities in our municipality."
Being in the National Youth Front has been very beneficial for the “Colectivo Lider - Voz de Cambio ” since it provides us with tools and strategies that help us develop critical thinking about the reality of our communities.
Part of Coordination of National Youth Front
This year, Mirna was chosen to be part of the national coordination of the National Youth Front. As a result of participating in the Youth Front, she was able to enter other decision-making spaces in the department of Retalhuleu: she is currently member of the Coordination of the Departmental Youth Network that brings together 8 youth grassroot organizations, in addition, she is participating into the Committee of Community Development COCODE of her community. She has participated in the development of proposals for action plans in relation to the allocation of municipal budget to meet the needs of adolescents and youth in training and employability programs; also, in relation to the prevention of violence and women's rights, for the coming months, which must be presented to the new authorities in the next year. Furthermore, Mirna has also been participating in the Municipal Directorate for Women, where she trains and supports other young women.
Mirna is nowadays a recognized activist who ventures into other human rights projects, with an emphasis on women, youth and adolescents. One of the most significant achievements of her volunteer work has been that she contributed to the establishment of the Municipal Youth Office in San Sebastian. She has also been directly involved in the process of approving the national policy of women and youth.
(1) SODEJU stands for Sociedad para el Desarrollo de la Juventud (Society for Youth Development). It is one of ICCO’s partners in the Civic Engagement Alliance.