09 Mar Voices from Miraflor – Wester
Wester is 23 years old. He’s grown up on his grandparent’s coffee farm in Miraflor. They’re members of UCA Miraflor, the farmers’ co-operative that supply all of our coffee. I’ll let him introduce himself…
When I last visited Miraflor Wester showed us around. He took us to his grandparent’s farm. He taught us about his community and then took us out to his local for a beer. He’s someone who has the brilliant skill of knowing how to speak simply so that Spanish learners can understand him. You’ll probably see what I mean. Here he is explaining how to select which coffee cherries are ready to harvest.
When we spent time with Wester he explained that one of the challenges that Miraflor faces is the number of young people that leave behind rural life and move to the city. He said that once people have turned 18 and have finished secondary school then they often want to carry on their education. To do this they’ve needed to travel to a nearby city. Doing this while living in Miraflor is not easy.
“To study in the city you need to pay for the university, for the transport there, for our food, often for accommodation too.”
In reality, he said, the majority of young people end up moving to the nearest city which is Estelí. This allows them to find work to help pay their way through university. The large number of tobacco factories in Estelí provide the majority of employment.
Wester told us:
“A lot happens when the youth go off to the city. We don’t have people here to work on the farms and the children and grandchildren aren’t able to help their elders.”
He said that sometimes the older people sell their farms as a result and there’s no guarantee that people will enjoy the transition to city life.
“Normally, we think that the city will be a better place to live but in the end we realise it isn’t much better there. If we are here, in Miraflor, we have our own resources and don’t have to buy them. We have our families, our own food and own our homes. In the city we may be earning a bit more money but then we have to pay for rent, all our food, water and electricity. Here we only think about the things we really need and we have a good life.”
But Wester’s community have taken steps to reduce the number of young people leaving. He said that
“we have always asked for help in developing Miraflor and to have more places for young people and for better living conditions so people do not need to leave. One thing that people have asked for is a university. Now UNAN university in Managua have worked with the European Union to carry out a project called University in the Countryside. They’re running courses in rural areas where it’s difficult to study.”
Now young people can study in Miraflor.
This week I’m heading back to Miraflor. We’ll be catching up with Wester to find our how the coffee harvest went and what their hopes are for the year.