"Really in Colunga the African proverb is lived 'if we go together we go further'"
We spoke with Valentina Correa, who told us about her powerful experiences in the African continent, the great motivation that led her from a young age to want to participate in social aid, and how she was captivated by the work she is currently doing with her team in the most vulnerable places. from Africa.
How did you get into civil society?
I entered the social world from school. First I linked with missions, winter and summer jobs, but in middle school what marked me the most was a volunteer that I did in a recording center for the blind. When I came to study in Santiago, I went to Techo as a volunteer.
In 2009 I met some Spanish missionaries, I was in a chat where I met the work they did in Ethiopia and I fell in love with the project. At the end of the talk I said "I want to go with you". In 2010 I went for the first time, and to this day I think I have gone more than ten times to the African continent. I lived in Ethiopia for two years and founded an NGO called "Friends of Ethiopia" which was a bridge of help between the Chileans we had gone to and the missionary community. After a trip I returned to Chile and met the founder of EducAfrica, Matías Sanz, we had a lot in common but our interventions were different. What Colunga does, we did intuitively with Chilean organizations while in Africa. Unintentionally, we grouped all the Chilean NGOs that worked there at that time, which were like seven or eight.
What is the organization currently working on?
At this moment in EducAfrica we are passionate about becoming partners with the projects in which we work. What we have done this year is to transfer the leadership of Chile to local leaders, therefore the president of the foundation is Keniata, that is important to emphasize. The offices in Chile function as a support to facilitate operations in Kenya, and soon we will open to Uganda. Passing the leadership means that they hire their local team, that our Chilean team does certain training on how we understand what should be the educational advice, collect their interests and end with a final product that is well worked among people who know the territory and we.
Our heart is in educational consultancies. We work in vulnerable contexts, based on a community interest in very precarious camps that have organized themselves to build their own schools, because they see that public education is precarious, and that private education is good but very expensive , they organize by making their classrooms and hiring their own teachers. There we found two schools where we saw a huge potential, because there really was a willingness of the teachers and the local community for their children to be educated, in a context where child labor is often tempting, because it generates income. Education does not see it as an investment. We became partners of these schools and we wanted to help teachers to be better, because they are not professionals, most have only one workshop, diploma or certificate. We also hold workshops lasting three semesters, where we put together work with teachers, students and administrators, and then follow up. At the offices in Chile we are working on a program called Africa Educa.
What is your biggest challenge?
As we are constituted in Kenya and our team is capable of formulating projects, from EducAfrica Kenya, our challenge is to apply to the European Union and allocate funds, so as not to make this complex triangulation of: Chile seeks funds in Spain to take them to Africa. That is a challenge on the part of the field offices and on our part is to finalize the Africa Educa program. It is also important that there are always volunteers in the field who link us constantly.
How has your experience been at ColungaHUB?
In particular for EducAfrica, due to its reality as a cooperator, Colunga acts as an anchor to the phenomena that are occurring in Chile. It helps us to know in what subjects the civil society is moving and it lands us. On the other hand, making synergy. Actually in Colunga the African proverb is lived "if we go together we will go further". In the last 12 months I have felt the enormous effort of the Colunga team for us to work in a network.
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"Nos cuesta mucho como sociedad creer que un conocido daña a una niña o niño, no queremos saberlo"