In Nicaragua, the relationship between older adults and children takes the form of a welfare relationship, where mutual care for children and older people is central. In some cases, due to migration or neglect, grandparents assume the role of parents and take full responsibility for raising their grandchildren. Relationships develop under the burden of household chores and stressful daily activities. This can lead to the creation of silent relationships, where affection and learning disappear behind poverty, routine and duties.
In the city of Matagalpa in Nicaragua many young girls and boys who participate in the activities of Asociacion La Amistad’s Community Library are growing up being cared for by older people.
Tina, a 65 year-old grandmother is one of these grandmothers. She is responsible for the care of Fiorela, who is 6 years. Tina combines this with taking care of household chores and trying to make the house a safe place for herself and her granddaughter. This all demands considerable time and physical effort from Tina.
Silent relationships between young and old are far more marked when children grow older. The relation between adolescents and older people in the role of caregivers becomes more difficult in time as differences in interests and expectations of the two generations increase.
Based on this situation, and inspired by the TOY Project, Asociacion La Amistad decided to start the “Shepherd of Dreams” project. It aims to strengthen the relationship between older adults, young boys and girls within the family and in the community. According to Rita Sequeira, Director of La Amistad: “We hope that everyone will recognize the contribution that each generation brings to society and from there find a way of living together that is healthy, respectful and appropriate for all stages of life”.
In “Shepherd of dreams” older adults will be involved in activities such as education, art, sports, environment, that Association La Amistad normally organizes for children. Older people will be invited to play the role of guardians of knowledge, teachers for the young boys and girls, passing on skills and knowledge from generation to generation in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Children and older people will develop these activities together.
The project will also involve other local partner organizations, who will be invited to co-design with young children and older adults small initiatives in their communities. The idea is to show community members that young and old can plan and do things together for the benefit of the entire community. They have involved private and public organizations that will provide space and materials for the development of the activities. Examples of these activities are a children’s theater group and a plant nursery called “Semillitas”.
La Amistad are also planning on involving children and older adults as peer-educators for other young and old participating in the activities of Association La Amistad and other organizations. They will raise the awareness of young and old in their communities about the importance of continuing this important and positive intergenerational dynamic.
“We want children and older people to transform the idea of vulnerability that society has about them. By recognizing the value of experiences possessed by adults and the promise of future represented by children, the ability to learn of both generations and do things together will be hopefully enhanced” , says Rita Sequeira director of La Amistad.