Series stage 7 focus

"Un Techo para mi Pais": solidarity and education

For the third time, Etienne Lavigne Managing Director of the Dakar handed in -- in the name of the Dakar organizers -- a contribution to the amount of 157,000 dollars to the "Un Techo para mi Pais" association. Thanks to the three donations, 450 homes have been built in Argentina and Chile since 2009 for families in need to whom thousands of volunteers -- 25,000 in Chile -- also provide classes and training courses. We met with one of the volunteers: Pablo Contreras.

Pablo Contreras is coordinator of the "Un techo para mi Pais" Foundation, in the area of Arica and Parinacota. He tells about his work and his mission. Who did you get involved in the association? Pablo Contreras: "I am an agricultural engineer by training. I am 30 and I have been involved in 'Un Techo para mi Pais' since 2002. Actually, it all started with 'Un Techo para Chile' which was created in 1997. In the beginning of the 21st century, the organization had already become 'Un Techo para mi pais' and friends of mine were members and asked me to join to get out of my studious mood and open up to other people. I liked the project because it had a big social focus, as well as a support element. The idea was not just to give money to families in need but to complement the offer of a home and a roof by a training and education offer.Today, what is your role after almost a decade in 'Un Techo para mi Pais'? Pablo Contreras: "I stayed on board because the whole project is in line with my aspirations. I became responsible for the city of Arica and its area, Parinacota. I always start the day doing the admin. People work and the families we are working with and for are only available with their kids in the afternoon after 5:00 PM. The core of my work is to coordinate and organize the educational follow-up after donation. In Arica, there are 32 volunteers; we are implementing the education project we have defined in agreement with each family. Most of the time families ask for educational support for their children of for themselves, especially reading and writing. Intervention is split up in three levels: children, teenagers or parents. How much time do you dedicate to 'Un Techo para mi Pais'? Is it hard to recruit volunteers? Pablo Contreras: "In Arica there are presently 32 permanent volunteers. Sometimes there are more of us because some show up on an occasional basis. As far as I am concerned, I dedicate 80% of my time to the project. I am not paid for it, so I try to bring all of my money-making activities into one full week; to make enough money. The difficulties the country has been confronted with lately have created awareness for social problems and many people came to us. Some to volunteer, others to know how to help on a more occasional basis. It's great; it shows we have done a good job. It is not easy; it always takes time to change people's minds.

-source: dakar

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Series Dakar