Focus on Marcela Guillibrand, Executive Director of the Network of Volunteers of Chile

April 9, 2018
Communications Colunga Foundation

"In ColungaHUB there is a lot of willingness of the organizations to build together and that is a plus for civil society "

How did you get to civil society?

I came to organized civil society because at the time of the university I was a volunteer in the Araucanía region, I studied translation at the Catholic University in Temuco, and my first approach was through environmental issues, in Greenpeace Chile. There I was working as a volunteer for many years and took over a couple of international projects. At that time I met the Volunteers Network of Chile, because Greenpeace Chile was part of the network.

I was there when the Hogar de Cristo called me to work in the national volunteer coordination. It was a school because I learned a lot.

Then I went back to Greenpeace, but this time in the International organization, and I was living in Mexico in charge of the national coordination of volunteering there. Then I went to Europe to create volunteering projects as an independent in different places, especially in Germany and Turkey. When I returned to Chile, I continued to consult with Greenpeace International and from the government they called me to support the National Volunteer Program, in the first term of President Michelle Bachelet. I returned to the Hogar de Cristo and when I decided to return to the freelance area they called me from the Volunteer Network to be in the executive direction and I have been there since 2012.

What is the Volunteer Network currently working on?

Today we are committed to strengthening our network internally. Our objective has always been to strengthen organizationally those groups, groups, foundations and corporations that incorporate permanent volunteering (at least three months within your organization), and the needs of these organizations are always multiple. We take care of these needs through training schools for CSOs, and also in schools open to the community, with a contingent theme that we consider useful for civil society in general. We are working on these two lines, within the framework of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, because we believe that the role of volunteering ultimately falls on the responsibility of citizens.

What challenges do you have for this 2018?

We have a challenge with advocacy, which has to do with moving a policy related to volunteering. There is a proposed law of volunteering in the Chamber of Deputies that went to the second constitutional process, which is not a law that suits us completely, but at least puts the first intention to promote and encourage volunteering in our country in absence of public spaces that do so.

An internal challenge that we have is to be able to rearticulate ourselves at the national level. In March we met with representatives from all over Chile to start the year seeing what is happening in other regions with volunteering and see how that is being enhanced, to expand and return to be a national network. We are currently 138 organizations in six regional networks.

How has your experience been at ColungaHUB?

We are from the summer of 2015 at ColungaHUB, América Solidaria invited us. In our network there were several organizations that were in ColungaHUB as VE Global, Trascender, Pro Bono Foundation, among others, and at that time we found it interesting to be in a space where we could listen to what was happening with the other civil society organizations. The other thing that we found attractive was the space, which offered us good places for meetings, for mass calls.

At the beginning it was the locality, the infrastructure, the possibility of entering a new network, but almost three years after that incorporation I think there is an added value in ColungaHUB, because we have been more present, we are in a space of cowork, therefore we are always listening to what is happening in other topics and that also gives us a cable to ground, because we work very from the second floor, we work with the coordinators, delegates and executive directors, we are not in the field of the organizations themselves. Listening to other organizations that work with volunteers makes us again have the sensitivity and empathy of why volunteering is necessary.

We know that ColungaHUB intends to generate synergies in some areas. There is a lot of willingness of the organizations to build together and that is a plus for civil society.

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