Solange is from Chile and is currently working as an Adviser in Local Economic Development for Federación Nacional de Cooperativas Agropecuarias y Agroindustriales (FENACOOP) in Nicaragua.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a woman eager to get to know different cultures and on the constant quest to understand the “other”. At the same time, I define myself as an enterprising person as I like to work on cutting edge issues.
What inspired you to become a Development Worker with Progressio?
Since I was a little girl, I have been interested in working for social justice and giving voice to the excluded. I believe Progressio provides a space which brings together these ideas.
What made the biggest impact on you on arrival in Nicaragua?
Social inequality, the unequal distribution of wealth and the marked differences between social classes. The other factor that made a big impact was the heat.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The chance to develop and transfer experiences within the framework of professional development. I enjoy thinking about how to adapt methodologies to different socio-cultural contexts.
What has been the most exciting moment so far?
Being able to carry out field work in rural areas and find out more about the lifestyle of indigenous communities and coffee producers.
And the biggest lesson?
To learn about the country, its traditions and political paradigms. To listen to everything and not express my opinions too quickly.
What is the biggest development challenge facing Nicaragua and the area in which you are working?
Working with an inter-generational focus, with cooperatives, young people and women small-scale farmers and to make sure that we work in a representative way and come up with a strategy that takes into account their vision of development.
If you could change one thing, what would that be?
I would bring my dogs and my friends so they could be immersed in this marvellous experience.
What strikes you most about Progressio’s Development Worker model?
That it gives the opportunity for development workers from different parts of the world to work on themes related to poverty from a holistic perspective, principally with a participatory and empowering approach.
What is your favourite motto or saying?
The saying: “When in Rome do as the Romans do” and my motto: “The journey as the meaning of life.”
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of becoming a development worker?
To think carefully about their decision to apply for the role, as it is not easy to immerse yourself in a different country with new traditions and customs. The ideal scenario is to observe, get to know and understand the other’s context to then influence that culture.
Where do you see yourself once your placement has ended? And in what ways is this placement with Progressio assisting you to get there?
In Africa, continuing to work on development issues. If this is not possible, to live in a house in the countryside working with rural communities in Chile.