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Focus on: Ester Valenzuela, Executive Director of CIDENI

April 23, 2018
Communications Colunga Foundation

"It has been a great experience to be at ColungaHUB, in the sense that it has given us the opportunity to share with other types of organizations" 

How did you get to civil society?

When I graduated as an attorney my first job was in Servicio País, a program of the Poverty Overcoming Foundation. There I had to work in the sixth region, in a town called Placilla, which is between San Fernando and Santa Cruz, next to a psychologist. We did a field work with all the civil organizations that had to do with issues of law, education, intrafamily violence networks, in the sixth region. They asked me to stay one more year, but I had just applied to a post of Secretary of Studies of the Faculty of Law of the UDP (Diego Portales University) and had stayed, so at the end I went back to Santiago to that job, and two years later I they appointed from the Law School and there I was 15 years. I have always worked on children's rights issues, and when I was in Servicio País I worked with issues of child abuse and the rights of children and adolescents. Then I continued working, but from the academic perspective. 

In August of 2017 I was presented with the possibility of making a life change. The Ibero-American Center for the Rights of the Child (CIDENI) is an initiative of Miguel Cillero, a professor at the UDP Law School, and when he invited me, he was not only part of this project, but also, to install it, to build it from the beginning. I returned to my origins, full of much more knowledge, experience in management and training.

It has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life, I have a lot of expectation with what we are doing and we will be able to do.

What is CIDENI currently working on?

The objective of CIDENI is to influence legislation and public policies, national and regional, on issues of children's rights. And to be able to influence specific public policies, with legislative proposals, is that our job is to produce knowledge and proposals to achieve changes at the national and regional levels.

Even though we are in our year zero, conforming ourselves, we are already working with Unicef Honduras, in formulating the public policy of juvenile criminal responsibility systems of that country. We are also working to support the technical model of the Hogar de Cristo, the legal advice in residences and in various projects they have, such as "Súmate a tu barrio", where they work with out-of-school children. There we are seeing the right approach, which is very important. We believe that in general, things are worked either from the psychosocial or from the legal point of view, and we want to link both things, to have a comprehensive work proposal. And in that we are, working together with the Hogar de Cristo.

What challenges do you have for this year 2018?

Complete the procedures to be able to legally exist and close this constitution period. We gave ourselves zero this year, from August 2017 to August 2018, to be able to conform in all areas, to have a strategic plan from here to the next three years, and start with our main objective which is to influence.

How has your experience been at ColungaHUB?

It has been a great experience to be at ColungaHUB, in the sense that it has given us the opportunity to share with other organizations, and to have synergy at work. And that has been very good. Being in an office working alone, is different from participating in a big project where there are common challenges, and there is a common hallmark too. That is very powerful for the day to day, it gives an energy, a special synergy, to the projects. It is very attractive to be able to contribute and also receive input from the eyes of other professionals, because in general lawyers work with lawyers, and the interdisciplinary view enriches our work.

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