Latin American Foundation for the Future

Meet Jhovana


“I want to be a chef and open my own restaurant”, Jhovana, 17.

Like many other girls her age, seventeen-year old Jhovana has a dream career: to become a chef. However, it was not always clear that Jhovana could achieve her dream. She became pregnant when she was just 14 and was forced to leave her home. An organization called Casa de Acogida Mantay took her in. Casa Mantay is a non-profit organization that provides shelter to young mothers aged 12 to 18, who could not stay in their homes. In Casa Mantay, these young mothers receive material and emotional support, which enables them to rebuild their self-esteem and to assume their maternity in a safe environment. LAFF provides Casa Mantay with financial assistance for formal education and vocational training for the girls, as well as technical support and capacity building for their personnel.

It is through LAFF’s support that Jhovana is able to attend gastronomy classes at Inca Educa, a technical institute inCusco. Five days a week, Jhovana takes 4 hours of gastronomy classes after taking care of her 2 ½ year old son and doing homework for her high school classes that she attends on the weekends.  Through Inca Educa she has learned both the theory and practice of cooking. She can now make both savoury and sweet dishes, although savoury are her favourite.

Johvana has also participated in other activities financed by LAFF, including the workshop “Be The Change” where she and other beneficiaries learned how to write a resume and behave during a job interview. According to Jhovana, before the workshop, “I didn’t know how to make a resume. I didn’t even know what a resume was”. Jhovana is very grateful for the workshop, as she knows having this knowledge will help her in her professional life. She now has a structured resume that highlights both her education and work experience. Jhovana added that when talking to a potential employer, she would be able to tell them that she is a “joyful, dynamic and responsible person, loving the job [she’ll] be doing.”

 For a girl who has dreamed of becoming a chef since she was 11, Jhovana is well on her way to her ideal job. Jhovana’s plans for the future? “I’ll keep studying gastronomy, and when I have my own home, I’ll open a seafood restaurant.”


UPDATE! (March 2014)

Since we wrote the profile above on Jhovana, she has certainly made a lot of progress! She undertook work experience at La Cicciolina, one of Cusco’s most renowned restaurants, and after completing her time there she has now moved on to a permanent job at a restaurant near one of Cusco’s universities. The owner of the restaurant is actually looking at passing the business over to Jhovana and so she and Raquel, the director of Casa Mantay, are looking at the finances of the restaurant to determine whether this is in her interests.

On a personal level Jhovana has also taken some big steps. She has moved out of Casa Mantay and now lives in a house with her son and Corali, another ex Mantay girl. The house is very close to Casa Mantay so she can still get support when she needs it and her son is currently being looked after in the Mantay nursery while she is at work. However he will soon start at Pasitos, an infant school near to her house, and so will also start on his education soon.

We are really proud of Jhovana who is now an independent young woman, working in the career she has always wanted to and may be close to realising her dream of owning her own restaurant!