Focus on: Álvaro Arriagada, Executive Director of Proyecto Universal

February 4, 2019
Communications Colunga Foundation

"Working in the same space, together with other organizations, should be almost a requirement"

How did you get to civil society?

I have always been linked to civil society, since I was in school, however, my direct involvement began after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. There I was lucky to be able to work on the reconstruction through a Chilean consultant who lent him services to a German NGO. After that came the project of the Republic of Chile School in Haiti, where I could be the architect of the project. It was there where I met Freddy Yáñez, with whom some years later we founded Universal Project.

What is the organization currently working on?

We have two marked lines of work, one with low-cost remunerated projects and the other with free projects financed indirectly by the former. In the first line, we are executing in Haiti a design project and construction of dry toilets, and the implementation of a potable water sanitation system. To them, a water intake project is added for a community of 23 houses. Among the free projects, we are in the process of designing a school in Borel, another in Leogane and recently we finished another one in Delmas 33, in Port-au-Prince.

Photo: Universal Project Team in Haiti

What is your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge is to find a balance between the demand for projects in areas of high vulnerability and catastrophe, and the offer of professional and technical services from so many people who have concerns and desires to balance this balance. Our main focus is on overcoming poverty through the formulation and development of projects from the local level, but supported by professionals and technicians from anywhere in the world. We have been able to materialize this through field offices in Haiti and work with volunteers for free projects from countries such as Chile, Venezuela, Spain and Cameroon. We want to materialize a collaboration that dates back many years in Kenya, with friends from EducÁfrica.

How has your experience been at ColungaHUB?

We have not been long, but this period has been very intense and profitable. Realize that we are not alone, and that even more, we find partners in areas that are as different as complementary, is to realize that from the most diverse backgrounds and backgrounds there is an interest to make visible and improve the quality of life and dignity of those who we inhabit this planet. Participation in Colunga makes us think that working in the same space, together with other organizations, should be almost a requirement for civil society. We already appreciate the opportunity enormously and we hope that the collaboration will be lasting.

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