04/12/2018 – We sat down with Kissila Trindrade, Careers Advisor at our Rio Academy, to talk about the importance of the work she does,  her approach to preparing young people for the world of work and her experiences at Fight for Peace. 

“In essence, the mission of a careers advisor is to train young people so that they reach their potential. I think the first thing that I noticed working at Fight for Peace was how well the organisation’s methodology ties in with our mission as careers experts. Generally, in schools, careers advisors have the extra challenge of not having this institutional support.

Here at Fight for Peace we have a whole framework, everybody from each of the Five Pillars (Education, Employability, Boxing & Martial Arts, Support Services and Youth Leadership) working, striving so that the young person can succeed – and this is really good. We’re not just saying chase these opportunities, we provide access to the opportunities: it’s all real and tangible. This is what makes our work so much better.

The second thing that makes us passionate about our work are the young people at Fight for Peace. I never see young people who are here because they have been forced to be by their parents and who don’t have any interest in the work that’s being done by the organisation. They really buy into the idea of progressing, with support, and being part of shaping what our organisation is all about. This is so heartwarming – it’s is what I like the most.

For example, there is one young girl who, when I started working with her, told me her life story and she had had a very difficult journey. Her mother had problems with mental health and her family were so heavily weighed down by this that she had to temporarily step away from her studies. So she came here feeling guilty, thinking that she had wasted her life, feeling bad that she had no prospects at an age when people were finishing their schooling.

In a group activity I asked her what wasting a life meant. As she spoke, everyone in the group recognised what she was saying and agreed with her point of view. So I challenged the group and asked what they would want to do if they had only one day to live – the response was that they would spend it with their families. This led to us organising things in terms of priority and to the young person in question realising that she hadn’t wasted her life, that she had dedicated some time to her family and that now was her time to pursue her career, while still remaining close to her loved ones.

The next day, the young person returned to me in tears saying that the group meeting had changed her life, that she wanted to look for better job, and that now she was able to dream. Sometimes, we feel so tied to the past, thinking that we have blundered in some way or other, that we’re not able to see possibilities for the future.

One question I often ask young people is what they would do if they were millionaires. Many of them aren’t able to imagine this and aren’t able to think beyond an ‘any job will do’ logic. And so we strive to reinforce self-esteem, we ask what is best for you? What suits you best? Which career is going to give you the best chance of entering the job market? What is going to make your dreams come true? What are you engaging in for your own good? How much are you engaging in your own decision, in your own choice?

It’s beautiful to see the realisation among young people that they can have a career in something that they are actually going to be very good at and that will allow them to have better things than now.

We’ve got to think in terms of the job market, yes, we’ve got to think in terms of salaries, but we must think beyond this too because jobs are also about day to day realities. In this way, young people start making choices that aren’t based purely on money. It is no longer ‘ah, I want a multi-thousand-pound salary’ but ‘I’m going to do this because this is what I like.’ Here in Maré the majority of young people want to feel useful, want to feel like they’re doing something for a cause. You can see this in almost all the young people.

I think that if I could leave one message for our young people, I would say don’t give up. Perseverance when we are in the middle of our careers is very important. The start is difficult for everyone, the journey has its mishaps, but what I hope is that all of our young people manage to find real satisfaction in their work.”