A second chance

It is difficult to imagine that Humberto Urbina, a charming, smart and articulate young man from Nicaragua, was once a drug dealer and violent criminal.

His past as a gang member still haunts him – “To have taken people’s lives…that you can’t forget” – but thanks to Christian Aid partner Centre for the Prevention of Violence (CEPREV), he has turned his life around. He has learned that being a man is not about reaching for a gun, but reaching out to his children and giving them the affection he lacked.

According to CEPREV, men are increasingly turning to violence to reinstate their power as women now have more public roles and employment opportunities. The rates of domestic violence and femicide continue to soar.

This is precisely one of the issues that CEPREV addresses in its workshops and counselling sessions. It helps young men and women learn to express their repressed fears and traumas without using violence.

Breaking stereotypes

Today Humberto is a single dad looking after his two young children, which is rare in a country where childcare is considered to be a woman’s job.

Humberto’s life has changed for the better, but he recognises that when he is short of money for his children, he feels tempted by his previous high earnings.

During these times CEPREV continues to support him. He is now a CEPREV volunteer, helping other young people whose lives have been devastated by drugs and crime. “Now I stop the killings by preventing my friends from doing it,” he says.

Through its work CEPREV has helped to demobilise 125 gangs in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua.

From Commitment for Life materials