Focus on: Tomás Lawrence, President of Fundación Interpreta

June 19, 2018
Communications Colunga Foundation

"In ColungaHUB you find yourself with a pole of positive social transformation"

How did you get to civil society?

I worked for many years in the private sector, thinking that the world was changing from different areas. That was the premise that I had until I realized that I was not really changing it, but that I was only helping a sector of the population. I began my search on what I wanted to do, and it just coincided with the fact that we had decided to be dads with my wife. There I felt that I wanted to leave a better world for my children. I met Joselyn Gatica and Ignacio Loyola and decided to renounce the private world and create a social agency. This social agency did what it did was to support different NGOs in topics of communication and technology. There we realized that there was a social debt with the migrant issue.
What is happening with civil society is that there is a welfare model for migration, with a lot of super good initiatives, but with a very important debt to migrants. We decided to take this turn to be able to give them information, empower them, because with information they are less vulnerable.

 How long has Fundación Interpreta been there for a long time?

Interpret It has been more than 3 years since we started as an agency and then as an NGO. We wanted to start supporting Spanish speakers because it was the most migrant population in the country, but we realized that Haitian migration was with a higher rate of victimization, because they did not have the right information, there was no information in Creole. This is how we started working on the platform T-zen, which has all the information in that language and has more than 10,000 users today. We raised the information with the same community, they helped us to make the translation. Then we decided to take the T-zen model to take it to the Arabic speaking community, especially the Syrian refugees who arrived in the country. We launch the application Salam in January of this year. These platforms have cultural themes and basic operational information, as well as geo-referenced points, among other things.

What are the challenges you have for this 2018?

The internationalization of this model. It is working, the people are occupying it, they are helping it, which is the most important thing. We generate alliances to be able to achieve it, we alone can not do it. With T-zen we made an alliance with the Haitian Youth Embassy, the Jesuit Migrant Service and universities, while for Salam we joined the Syrian Charity Society and PwC. So, the more alliances, the more synergies we have, we will be able to continue to amplify and take this model to other countries, because the migrant issue is a global issue.

How has your experience been at ColungaHUB?

In ColungaHUB you find a pole of positive social transformation, with a lot of people with energy and desire to change the country and the world. That's why we made the decision to be in the third sector. Being here in Colunga has allowed us to attend workshops and talks that help us learn about the management of an organization, and to be able to contact us quickly with different actors. Since we arrived we made a very strong alliance with Pro Bono Foundation where we have derived cases of migrants who do not have access to legal support, and that is how we connect people.

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