3-16-17  |  Success Story

Talented Hands

BY: Beatriz Soto

– “Earrings or rings?” asks the teacher.

-“Earrings!” the students answer in unison.

– “It’s just that last time, our rings came out all crooked,” reply several women.

This is how jewelry classes with teacher Sofia Esperanza Salgado begin. Classes are held at the Fabretto center in Acahualinca, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Managua.

“We only meet once a week. Classes last 2 hours and the women are so excited that they do not want to leave; they want to continue learning,” explains Sofia, while handling the wire with pliers as she teaches a student.

Sofia was once a student at the Fabretto Center herself, starting at age 18. Little by little, she stood out among her classmates because she wanted to create new designs, try different techniques, and design more complex pieces. For this reason, in less than a year, she became the teacher’s assistant and then a member of the jewelry cooperative, in charge of marketing the jewelry.

“I came to Fabretto to borrow a computer for a school assignment, but while I was waiting, Deanna, the founder of the center, asked me if I wanted to join the jewelry class. She discovered my talent.” From that moment, Sofia knew that jewelry would be an important part of her life. She arranged her schedule so that she could take high school classes on Saturdays and teach jewelry-making on weekdays. She wanted to support her mother and five siblings who were living in La Chureca, the municipal dump of Managua, under very precarious conditions.

Now 27 years old, Sofia is married and is the mother of a 20-month-old boy. While she teaches jewelry-making to children and youth at the Fabretto center, her husband takes care of the baby. He supports her in her decisions and professional growth. She has since left the cooperative because, as she states, “My talent is teaching.” However, to this day, if the cooperative receives clothes orders, she still finds the time to help them, but not as a member. Life in the garbage dump, picking up aluminum, is now behind her; she now envisions herself as a young entrepreneur and dreams of continuing to work towards her university degree.

“Being part of Fabretto has changed my way of feeling and thinking. Now I contribute to my community so that other young people can have their own businesses and market their products,” she says proudly. Sofia not only teaches children and youth at the Fabretto Center, she also teaches jewelry-making for mothers in the surrounding schools.

Creative Women Jewelry is the name of the page that Sofia has created on Facebook to make work known. On this page, she displays and sells the different pieces she and her students have created.

“Before, people around here believed that jewelry was only a woman’s activity, but I have since learned that it is not. I have worked with many talented men who are meticulous in their work. I hope my son learns from me,” she says, smiling. Meanwhile, the class has come to an end. Some students put on the earrings they created to show off to their families, others save them to give as gifts. “This is how it starts,” concludes Sofia.

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