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Youth from indigenous community trained as furniture makers | Jun 17, 2008

Four of the youngsters from Awas Tingni showing a desk they produced.
Five youngsters from the indigenous rural community of Awas Tingni, located in the northern Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte (RAAN), in the Nicaraguan Caribbean region, attended a workshop in Masaya. The workshop aimed at teaching them techniques for making furniture, and was initiated by the organization Rainforest Alliance and the Cámara de Artesanos y Muebleros de Nicaragua (CAMANIC).

The training is part of a bigger plan by Rainforest Alliance, as engineer Carlos Ilabaca, functionary of the organization, explained. The community of Awas Tingni is located in the region where the association is working on the certification of forests. They currently have a large quantity of usable wood available, due to the impact of hurricane Félix in September of last year (2007). CAMANIC cooperates with Rainforest Alliance, working on a plan for international certification of manpower and raw material.

After the hurricane, CAMANIC sent personnel to Awas Tingni to help with the reconstruction of affected houses. Because of the availability of quality wood, they came up with the idea to give workshops to teach people how to construct wooden furniture. Carlos Ilabaca said that they will also provide the necessary machinery later. The furniture can then be provided to the member companies of the Cámara de Muebleros (the association of furniture makers).

The five youngsters are the first group from the aforementioned community to be trained in basic furniture making skills. They traveled over 500 kilometers to reach the town of Masaya, in the Pacific region of the country, where they were trained at different furniture enterprises. The idea is to continue training more people, by teaching small groups of five people the necessary skills in 15 days, as explained by Ilabaca and Eduardo Ñamendi, president of CAMANIC.

"Before, when we were in our town, we didn't know anything, but the town of Awas Tingni has an organization that wanted to move forward; that's why we came here, to learn new things, to learn how to make furniture", said the young Yel Morales, in the indigenous Mayangna language. Awas Tingni is a community with Sumo Mayangna origins and little over 1,000 inhabitants.