Focus on: Carolina Contreras, Executive Director of Pro Bono Foundation

June 13, 2018
Communications Colunga Foundation

"ColungaHUB helps a lot to strengthen civil society from face to face"

How did you get to civil society?

I liked to work, but the law disillusioned me in relation to the possibility of helping people. I thought you could help more quickly, closer. I started working in a law firm where the foundation was started, and where there was a lot of pro bono volunteering, helping people. That's where I reconciled with the race because I realized that, if I could help people from another area, from quality advice and free. Pro Bono Foundation provides voluntary legal services, beyond free. As a professional volunteer a value is added, but this is not charity. Volunteering has its rules, it has its responsibilities.

How was Pro Bono formed?

The foundation was formed in 2000 by six friendly attorneys who saw that in the United States this already existed, legal studies committed to social organizations. They brought the idea to Chile, supported by other law firms, and it worked super well. They first helped social organizations in areas linked to labor contracts, constitution processes, so they could better help in what they do. We indirectly support its beneficiaries. Then they opened up more cases, but the idea was above all to help with quality.
We had a very good response from the lawyers in general, but the civil society was a little more incredulous, and later they realized that it was a social service of good quality. When the idea got stronger we started to make agreements with Sename, with the Public Ministry, with microentrepreneurs, among others.

What are your biggest challenges for this year 2018?

There are areas that we will be strengthening to find new sectors of pro bono work. They have asked us a lot of help in the area of migrants, and there is also a lot of social rights that we see that is a little weak and that we want to bring it closer in a language that is a little bit more friendly. This year has to do with going to the bases of civil society. After a week we formed about 10 organizations. There are many social organizations, but they have to have a super strong base; if not, it is poetry. The idea is to consolidate and our work there is to help them with all their procedures in a super fine: labor, tax. We want to be a reference for social organizations.

How has your experience been at ColungaHUB?

It was a challenge because our physical space was very small. We were installed in a house, but in the end it was a good bet, because it is important to be connected with other organizations, to know how they work, to have more trust with them, to know them and to know us.
ColungaHUB helps a lot to strengthen civil society from face to face. It is different to know an organization online, by an invitation, to share with her. That strengthens us, helps a lot with the fiato, trusting the other, helping the other, because I believe that the success of social organizations is that each one dedicates himself to doing his own thing and not competing. When you realize that there are other organizations that do it super well, you start to create alliances, and these places help a lot, they create the environment to form them. With Interpreta, for example, we have an alliance, we have also had organizations like Proyecto B, Mujer Rise up or VE Global, MovidosxChile, among others.


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