On the International Day of Disaster Reduction 2014 we launched our #7Stories series to highlight the pivotal role young people and their YMCAs have played in saving lives in the most disaster prone regions in the world. Our first in the series is from Miguel, 17, a young farmer from Nicaragua, who has been trained in sustainable farming techniques to increase food security and reduce the impacts of future natural disasters and climate change.

YMCA #7Stories series: Miguel from Nicaragua

“I live on the farm on my own. I do not have a father and my mother died three months ago. She used to cook tamales and enchiladas and sell them but didn’t make much money. So when I was 14 years old I had to leave school and started working to help my mother.

“But I also used to spend a lot of time messing around with my friends, wasting my time and being upset about everything and with everyone. It made my mother unhappy.”

“Last year, the YMCA came to visit me and talk about their work. I was interested because they were going to train us to grow better produce and crops in our farms. Our farm was very poorly arranged and almost abandoned. My mother was cooking and selling the tamales and I was working or hanging around. So I decided to apply and I was selected as a participant in the project.

“I attended the training course at the University and it was great. I learned loads of things, about how to make my own fertiliser and pesticides, using natural products, they taught us about seeds, the most suitable and resistant for our lands, and how to prepare the soil. I have been working very hard every day since then. I got one of the water tanks to collect rain water and the irrigation system that is helping me to water my plants. It is amazing how this land has changed. There was nothing here before. And now I have tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, chillies, pumpkins, onions, carrots….and everything is growing very well! I am lucky because I live also close to a river so I am coping with the drought better than other people.

“Since my mother died I live here alone. There is only me, the chickens and my dog. But I don’t have time to feel lonely, the plants need me to be with them every day. I am also teaching other young people from my community and it’s going very well. They are learning a lot and sometimes we work together on my land.

“I start working at sunrise and stop when it gets dark. But it’s worth it. I love my farm now. I used to think that it was a poor land, that I had nothing, but you know…poverty is not in the land, it is in our mind. I used to be poor but I am not poor anymore.

“I eat better and I can still sell some of my produce. Next year I will rent some extra land so I can sell more produce. Then I can start saving money to repair my house. Build proper walls and floor with bricks and concrete. It’s currently made from wood and it gets very damp and muddy inside during the raining season. And then I will maybe even think about getting a girlfriend. But now I am too busy for that right now.”

Download or Donate!

Spread the word about DRR far and wide. If you’re on Social Media why not download Miguel’s ECard and share his story on your Facebook and Twitter Page using the #7Stories hashtag.

Or donate to our emergency fund so we can reduce the impact of disasters and be ready to respond as soon as they hit. Did you know every $1 spent on disaster preparedness saves $7 in disaster aftermath.