Carlos is a 22-year-old young man from the Dominican Republic. Like many young men his age living in a country with both high unemployment and high underemployment, Carlos has gone through a lot of turmoil in his young life. He admits he has a difficult time trusting anyone or any organization to help, and he was hesitant to participate in the Youth Alert program supported by Project HOPE.
The program, begun in March of 2014, with the support of USAID, targets at-risk young people from the ages of 11-24 and helps provide opportunities for better health, education and employment. Specific activities of the program include access to health services and health education, improved school inclusion and retention, and opportunities for technical and vocational training. "The program’s objective is to provide both viable alternatives and a network of support to improve the lives of young people at risk, “said Teresa Narvaez, Project HOPE’s Country Director for the Dominican Republic.
At first, Carlos was very suspicious of the vocational training course because it was free. But he attended and participated. With a little reassurance, the Youth Alert team earned some of Carlos’s trust and even encouraged him to branch out and attend a self-employment fair to learn how young people can operate their own businesses. While the concept seemed a bit overwhelming to Carlos at first, additional mentoring helped him understand that young entrepreneurs can start small, achieve their goals, and build their businesses. Carlos was inspired. He developed a business plan to open a cell phone store, but he proposed implementing the plan with an online cell phone business that could be started on a smaller scale, and help provide seed money for his full business plan.
Carlos submitted his plan to the self-employment job fair sponsored by the Youth Alert program - and won second place! With the award he received from the job fair, Carlos now plans to purchase more cell phone merchandise to expand his business. Carlos has replaced his mistrust with a real HOPE for the future, and a heartfelt support for the Youth Alert project. He has also gained a nick name he is proud to hold. The other Youth Alert participants now call Carlos, Mr. Phone!
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