Somos El Cambio or “We are the Change” is a work program that allows participants the opportunity to work for necessities. The program runs on quarterly contracts. Members sign up to work for thirteen weeks on one of the several projects serving their town. Projects rotate depending on the needs of the town and the season. NICA signs a contract with each participant to work six hours a week for thirteen weeks. When they complete all its parameters, we deliver the agreed upon benefit. Benefits value at approximately twice the minimum wage rate set by the central government.
NICA has outlined strict rules that mandate participants send their children to school or attend school if they are students, treat each other with respect and compassion, as well as show up on time and complete the tasks agreed to in the contract. Each participant takes a turn at leading a group to learn leadership skills.
Somos el Cambio (SEC) is NICA’s flagship program. It was developed and implemented at the foundation’s inception in 2006. It is the backbone of everything we do in El Transito. SEC is based on the philosophy that giving handouts or help that was not earned by the recipient does not cause lasting change in their life. NICA has a hard rule that we do not give anything away for free. We help people by giving them an opportunity to earn their needs. Since its inception, the culture of the town has shifted. Locals don’t litter, and they teach their children, not to it. Locals are proud of their town; they have dignity because they built or remodeled or cleaned something in their community.
Locals don’t ask NICA for handouts but for chances to work in this program. There is a waiting list to participate. The only complaint we receive is that there are not enough opportunities each quarter. We invest $100 per participant, per quarter inclusive of all administrative, transportation, and benefit costs. We budget for 50 participants each quarter or 200 per year.
- Trash Collection
- Kitchen Team
- Bathroom Duty
- Well Crew
- Security Detail
- Enrichment Classes
- Infrastructure Maintenance
- Garden Helper
Our Somos el Cambio Program has created lasting change in many lives in El Transito. Many new homes have been built with materials earned through the program. Countless homes have been improved and repaired. Food, clothing, medication, school supplies, and shoes among other benefits are frequently requested by participants. This program has enabled locals to meet their basic needs by providing their needs to them in exchange for community service hours. Everyone in town benefits from their work and they earn a basic need that would otherwise go unrealized. NICA get a double impact for every dollar spent in this program. The beneficiary receives a benefit, and the community receives a good of community service.
This program has enabled locals to meet their basic needs by providing their needs to them in exchange for community service hours. Everyone in town benefits from their work and they earn a basic need that would otherwise go unrealized. Other positive impacts for the participants of this program are team building skills, leadership skills, accountability, responsibility, dignity, and self-respect. NICA gets a double impact for every dollar spent in this program. The beneficiary receives a benefit, and the community receives a benefit.
The best result of the Somos el Cambio Program is that many businesses have relocated to El Transito like surf camps, hotels, hostels, restaurants, and bars. A clean town is attractive to tourists. El Transito is the cleanest town in Nagarote, and Nagarote is the cleanest municipality in Nicaragua. El Transito is more than clean, it is immaculate, and businesses catering to tourists want to be there.
Finally, since the standard of living is elevated, so have the perceived needs of the participants. They want more than just construction materials and food these days. In 2015, NICA installed an internet connection and created a hot spot in the lower portion of the town. Now participants want to work for devices and internet usage. Students are more motivated than ever to attend school and learn.