Access to jobs, education, and a healthy future



Mariana’s greatest wish is for her two daughters to be able to study and not have to work when they are young, as she had to do in her youth.

A victim of armed conflict in Colombia, Mariana is leaving a legacy of education for her daughters after participating in Trabajamos por la migración (Working for Migration), an initiative led by Cuso International.  The program encourages refugees and forcibly displaced people, including vulnerable women and youth, to access formal employment.

When Mariana’s daughters recently ran through the supermarket aisles to pick up pencils, pencil sharpeners, markers, notebooks, folders, and pens of many colours, Mariana was not worried; for the first time, after finding employment at a food company, she had enough money to buy supplies for them to start a new school year.

Mariana believes a path is opening for more women like her to access a good job that provides a stable income for their families. Of the 1,586 migrants that have gained access to formal employment through Trabajamos por la migración, 52 per cent of them have been women.

“I am 45 years old, and many jobs are not available for women my age. It is very important for us, heads of households, to have more opportunities to work,” she says.

In her youth, earning the legal minimum wage seemed impossible. Since a young age, Mariana worked as a domestic worker in Medellín, after being displaced from the state of Chocó. For three years, she and her husband, two older sons, and two younger daughters lived in rural areas along the Atlantic coast. Making minimum wage was unimaginable in these parts.

“In the village where I was, only men harvested rice,” she says.

Today, after participating in Trabajamos por la migración, Mariana is an example of how displaced women can gain access to formal employment and maintain it. The program’s support for participants includes trainings on how to find a job, assistance during selection and recruitment processes led by partner companies, and follow-up activities to guarantee adjustment to the new workplace.

Beyond the walls of school, Mariana’s goal is to nurture her daughters’ passions. Her youngest daughter wants to play piano, and Mariana is determined to make this happen.