Through EquipYouth, Eridan Overcomes Adversity and Secures a Job

Twenty-two-year old Eridan de Sena Nascimento dreams of a promising future. Proud of her appearance, she likes wearing nice clothes and makeup, spending time with friends, and, above all, having fun. She’s just like any other young person her age, apart from one characteristic: she has a congenital physical disability called acute kyphosis that affects her spine. But what might have led to failure or disappointment has become a symbol of strength for this young woman. 

Eridan lives with her mother, brother, and stepfather in a two-room house in Altamira, Brazil. “She was always a special child, she was always strong-willed, even though she was sometimes a bit shy, a bit reserved. But there was always a light in her, a different kind of strength,” recalls her mother.

Before she enrolled in the EquipYouth (EY) program, launched by the International Youth Foundation and the Caterpillar Foundation in 2012, Eridan had finished her secondary education but not found work. Participating in EY was her second chance.  

During her training in customer service and administration, carried out by IYF partner ​Instituto Aliança, Eridan gradually overcame her own insecurities. She had never worked before, and was particularly fearful that others would discriminate against her because of her disability. As she began to spend time with other young people in the program, she realized she felt respected, valued, and above all, included. “Eridan is a sincere and level-headed person, friendly and really charming. She was always ready to help, to join in with activities. On many occasions, she showed that she was a great motivator,” said Jaqueline Dantas, a student in the same group.

The EY project team in Altamira was struck by the way Eridan was changing and overcoming the challenges in her life. Ana Júlia, the teacher responsible for personal and social development, recalls how she grew during the training. “At the beginning, Eridan was a fairly shy young person,” Ana Júlia says. “As time went on, we were pleasantly surprised to see that she made lots of friends, carved out a space for herself, and built up her self-esteem. Her apparent sadness was transformed into a contagious happiness. She shook off her insecurities to create her life plan and, gradually, she became a positive role model within the group.” The proof of Eridan’s ambition came when she became one of the first students in the program to find a job in the formal labor market.

Today, Eridan is working as a secretary at the Norte Bombas company, a local business that sells and maintains water pumps. She believes this is just the beginning of a long journey of personal and professional development. “I was born in Altamira, and I lost my dad when I was only three years old,” she says. “I had a difficult childhood, but I always tried to hold my head high. I also had some challenges before I joined the EquipYouth project, such as presenting work at school or talking in front of a big group of people. Today, though, I realize I’ve overcome these things, I’ve totally changed. And this change has helped me a lot in my daily life, both personally and professionally. EquipYouth helped me see my potential. It helped me believe that nothing in life is impossible when you’ve got the strength and the will to fight, to go after things.”