“You can't fight for the rights of those who don't exist, that's why our main fight is visibility."”
WHO WE ARE
Our mission is the creation of employment for people with disabilities, while our struggle is visibility and equality.
We believe in self-sufficiency and that is why we undertake projects with social responsibility and economic self-management.In Nicaragua, after completing the basic educational cycle, more than 90% of people with disabilities do not have any job opportunities, making it so essential to guarantee inclusion in the workplace.
Over the 12 years that we have been working in Nicaragua, we launched a number of socially responsible companies, and have thereby demonstrated that not only is this possible, but that it is replicable.And we are proud to have been an example that has inspired projects in other parts of the world.
WHAT WE DO
* Hammock Workshop
Created in 2007, the workshop has employed 38 people with disabilities and/or risk of social exclusion. We reached a level of specialization and quality of final product that has made the project a benchmark for hammocks around the world.We have shipped products to more than 30 countries.One of our greatest achievements was getting a blind worker to make a hammock for Pope Francis.
* Café de las Sonrisas
Inaugurated in 2012, it is the first restaurant in America managed entirely by deaf people.It is the winner of the Excelencias Gourmet 2017 award for the best socially responsible company in the world. The restaurant has currently expanded with a branch in the capital city of Managua and has been an example of integration, entrepreneurial success which has attracted worldwide media attention.
* Macramé Workshop
Project started in 2017. Managed by and for women, this project aims to create economic independence in situations of risk. It has been empowering its members so as to avoid suffering from any form of dependency.
* Sign Language Classes
In order to bring sign language closer to the general population, our sign language classes are completely free and help to create empathy towards the deaf community. Sign language classes have been a project that was born with the Café de las Sonrisas and have been taught by specialized educators.
* Plastic Bench
We started the campaign “The Endless Hammock” whereby visitors at our center can contribute to the weaving of a hammock which currently measures 20m x 5m. This hammock is made of plastic bags that we gather through various street-related activities, for example: we make meals in exchange for plastic bags that people have collected on the street.
* Disabled Employment Bank
Create a job database so that disabled people can find employment with socially responsible private sector companies.At present in Nicaragua, there is no project to help integrate people at risk of social exclusion into the labour market.
Jackson lost his vision at 20
Losing one’s sight at just 20 is one of life’s toughest possible challenges.Jackson is a fighter, though, and with just 5% vision in one eye and 0% in the other,he has become a great maker of hammocks and a model of strength and accomplishment.
Today, Jackson is about to start a university degree in natural medicine and his positive spirit and hope amazes and rubs off on all of us every day!
Rodolfo and Irma
This deaf couple met as children in a special education school, and they were barely 13 years old when their lives crossed paths with the Tio Antonio Social Center.At the age of 16 they began to make hammocks and then later went on to help to open the restaurant. Rodolfo was the one who named it “Café de las Sonrisas” and is currently its manager.
Being able to participate in the labour market has enable this couple to form a household, and they are now happy parents of a child, and we were proud witnesses at their wedding.