"It gives you great strength to see so many people fight together to transform the country"
Raúl Valdivia told us how he works hard together with the team Smiles Foundation to change the lives of thousands of children, teaching them mainly values and care. And, in addition, to fulfill the dream of many of them, which is to have a smile that makes them happy. Another purpose is to make this project visible and to give it the importance it deserves.
How did you get to civil society?
During all my school and university days I was involved in volunteering initiatives. Then, I had the privilege of studying a postgraduate course in England thanks to Scholarships Chile, and when I returned, I decided that we had to take a bigger step to play for the country. Together with others we founded Sonrisas the year 2012. Since then we are working with a lot of energy for the smiles of Chile.
What is the organization currently working on?
What we are looking for in Sonrisas is to promote a change so that we can all smile as we deserve and, for this, we are working on three lines.
We have a program called School Smiles, which works for a year with vulnerable educational communities, teaching the value and care of the smile with their own methodologies and materials. More than 7 thousand children have gone through this program, and this year we are working with 2 thousand more.
We continue with our Action Sonrisas project, which connects people in vulnerable situations with caring dentists who receive them in their consultations. This is a beautiful project that shows how a smile changes your life and brings out the best in you. And the third line of action this year, is our advocacy work, which has to do with the campaigns, studies and proposals we make to make the reality of the smile visible.
What is your biggest challenge?
We have the challenge of being able to be more incidents, of mobilizing more so that the smile of the Chileans really is a national priority. This is a postponed issue for decades, and we have the great challenge of becoming stronger and more sustainable to achieve the change we want to see.
How has your experience been at ColungaHUB?
It has been a great experience. It gives you great strength to see so many people fight together to transform the country. It is a very privileged space to meet and that has all the amenities to make our best possible.
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