In a country where 36% of children and youth drop out of school work (World Bank 2016), Fabretto recognizes the need to empower Nicaraguan youth to stay in school while at the same time helping them identify economic opportunities. The innovative SAT Program, a rural secondary education initiative that is recognized by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education, brings education to some of the most remote communities of Nicaragua. The unique model employs learning-by-doing and learning-by-earning methodologies to allow youth to develop skills that are relevant in their communities and beyond, providing them with a means to break the cycle of poverty.
This year, our Education Center in San Isidro, Managua is launching a new course for the youth enrolled in SAT. Thanks to a partnership with Swiss Contact and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), students are learning to make professional-grade fruit nectars and preserves. As part of the SAT Program’s focus on agriculture, students learn how to grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables. However, they are faced with the challenge of having to figure out what to do with the produce before it goes bad. The goal of this course is to provide students with alternative business models that don’t rely merely on the sale of fresh produce.
As you enter the busy classroom, you are immediately struck by the students’ professional look. Each one is wearing a hair net, face mask, gloves, and a lab coat or apron. Today, they are learning to make fruit concentrates from tamarind, passionfruit, and pineapple. The students begin to slice and dice the fruit, preserving every bit of juice that comes out. Once the fruit has been finely diced, it is blanched before being blended with its juice and some water. The mixture is then cooked down to concentrate the flavor. In order to improve the flavor profile of the fruit concentrate, students measure the pH with a testing strip and the Brix level with a refractometer before adjusting the acidity. Once the concentrate has been properly processed, it is time to bottle and label.
How to make fruit concentrate is only one of the many topics covered in this course. These SAT students have already learned how to make jam and fruit preserved in syrup. “Learning to preserve fruit in different ways provides a great advantage, as these young entrepreneurs won’t always have to worry about their fresh produce going bad before being able to sell it,” explains Freddys Moreno. Freddys is a highly qualified university professor who was hired specifically for this course. Thanks to our amazing partners, SAT students in San Isidro are receiving quality training in skills that will help them develop and sustain a livelihood.