|   Posted: June 01, 2021

As teenagers in Compassion’s program in Nicaragua, Santiago, Eddy and Juan discovered a passion for embossing. Now, they use it to help support their families during crisis.

Embossing the Future

As teenagers in Compassion’s program in Nicaragua, Santiago, Eddy and Juan discovered a passion for embossing. Now, they use it to help support their families during crisis.

Juan, Eddy and Santiago

Have you ever heard the saying “Nothing brings three teenage boys together like a shared love for embossing?”

Yeah, neither had we. Well, at least not until we met Santiago, Eddy and Juan.

Santiago, Eddy and Juan live in Nicaragua. The three young men became friends when their Compassion center director announced the start of a new vocational course: embossing. None of them had ever heard of embossing, but they were intrigued. So, they decided to enroll in the workshop.

“When the tutor explained what we would be doing, I grew interested in the process and the artistry behind it,” says Eddy, the youngest of the three. “I saw it as an opportunity to develop artistic skills, so I signed up.”

Embossing is a technique using a stylus to create or trace a three-dimensional image on paper, or in the boys’ case, foil. Then, the image is painted to create a beautiful piece of artwork.

For Santiago and Juan, who would both soon graduate from the Compassion program, the new course brought the possibility of starting their own business. They had observed how tourists liked to buy embossed souvenirs.

So, with a mixture of nervousness and expectancy, the three boys began learning how to emboss. And they quickly discovered that it was their passion.

Juan and Eddy
Santiago works at embossing

However, soon after the vocational course started, Nicaragua began facing a difficult political and economic situation caused by protests against the government. Roads were blocked, economic hardships arose and the workshops came to a halt.

“When the sociopolitical outburst happened here in Nicaragua, we were no longer able to find the materials we needed: the foils, the stylus, the paints,” says Giselle, the boys’ tutor.

Despite the unexpected challenges, Santiago, Juan and Eddy continued chasing after their dream. And after seeing their dedication, the staff at the Compassion partner church searched every craft store they came across for the embossing materials they needed.

“We saw how important this workshop was for the boys, and it set a precedent as well. With them being the oldest children, their example in determination, effort and persistence inspired the younger kids,” says Marisol, the center director.

Soon, the three boys were able to resume learning how to emboss — and they did it with fervor. The unrest in Nicaragua had pushed their families into difficult economic situations, which further fueled the boys’ desire to use their love for embossing to help provide income.

Later that year, the boys completed their workshop. Santiago and Juan’s Compassion journey also came to an end as they graduated from the program. But after spending their entire childhoods in the Compassion program, they wanted to give back.

“We’ve missed coming to the center, learning something new every day. But they taught us to serve our peers as well, to share knowledge and help others in whatever way we can,” says Santiago.

So, Juan and Santiago began volunteering their time to assist in teaching the embossing class at the Compassion center.

the boys and the center director, Marisol

Seeing their determination and drive, Giselle and Marisol decided to help them start selling their products by organizing a small stall for the boys in the community fair. Their designs on napkins and key holders sparked the interest of both locals and tourists.

With the support of Compassion, Juan, Santiago and Eddy continued to receive access to the materials they needed for embossing. And their passion and drive just kept growing — even as they faced more adversity.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the boys’ families once gain faced difficult financial situations. Santiago, Juan and Eddy were more determined than ever to support their families, so they started selling their products from home. And to their surprise, word of their business spread like wildfire. They were finally able to generate income from their embossed creations.

“I no longer see this as a pastime — I see it as an income-generating activity,” says Juan. “I thank the Lord for the success he has granted us, and the talent he has allowed us to grow and develop during this time.”

Despite the unexpected challenges brought on by the pandemic, the three young men seized the opportunity to continue to grow and develop. Plus, they took every opportunity they could to serve, never missing an opportunity to help the Compassion tutors when they started planning for the center’s reopening.

“I am thankful for what the center has done, for their support and their love,” says Santiago. “Serving here, helping the children learn embossing is a beautiful opportunity we have to give back to the place that has done so much for us. And when we do it, we do it with grateful hearts.”

To help provide life-changing opportunities for young adults like Santiago, Juan and Eddy, give a gift for Youth Development today.