"I find it super interesting that Colunga contributes to a magnificent circle of giving and receiving"
We talked with Tomás Reyes about how he came to América Solidaria, the unexpected way in which he acquired a very powerful commitment to civil society and the purposes that the organization has with the most vulnerable children and adolescents (NNA) on the continent. In addition, he told us about the goals that América Solidaria Chile has set for the remainder of this year.
How did you get to civil society?
I was very lucky to meet América Solidaria in a super casual moment. I worked in the private world, and within the consultancies that I did they asked us for a pro bonus for América Solidaria, and that's where I got to know the organization. The opportunity was given and this pushed me to the desire for a change of world. This civil society movement took place two years ago and I am happy to have done it. At that time there was just a process of searching for the Executive Director, and I applied without any experience in the social world.
I told my team that I knew solidarity in a theoretical way, with practical examples. But living the solidarity day by day in a work team, it had never happened to me. And that is a plus of civil society that I did not know. I discovered that you can be a work team that is articulated under solidarity, you are not competing with whoever is sitting next to you, but you are collaborating with him, and I think that Colunga does that very well.
Colunga, with other social actors, is a central part of what we have done in América Solidaria during these 15 years of the organization and I assume the need to continue pushing.
What does it mean for you to participate in Colunga HUB?
For America Solidaria being in Colunga I think it has been a great gift. The organization arrived when this was starting with the idea of a HUB.
I find it super interesting that Colunga contributes to a magnificent circle of giving and receiving. Sometimes when you are involved in the survey, financing and all those things, you forget that we are part of HUB, so we have to be attentive and available. In addition, we have a place that is in a high structural standard, this building is a luxury in its facilities and how the Colunga Foundation takes care that this is a perfect place. It is neither more nor less important than the quality of people that are here, but I think it is also very relevant in parallel to civil society growing in Chile, the high standard that Colunga provides us with its infrastructure, drives us and challenges that . If I'm in such a spotless place, we have to be all impeccable.
What are your objectives and challenges as an organization?
América Solidaria has three key objectives this year, to be sustainable (we are always looking for funds). That is a constant goal, which I wish would be gone. Although, America Solidaria has a good pass, the previous teams have allowed the organization to be in the place it is.
The other central axis this year is the greater transparency in what we do, in what we spend, in how we organize ourselves, where we are reaching. The clearer you are showing how much you spend the amount of money they give you, the more people will want to work with us. We have a base of almost 68,500 members and that is precisely because we work on being very transparent. The responsibility is how to keep them and keep trusting you. The information of the organization is available both internally and externally.
The third key point is how we reach and reach more children and adolescents on the continent, through our programs. That is a great challenge. We have in the axis of the organization our professional volunteers who work hand in hand with a territorial partner in a specific project within the continent. We put a volunteer who is an expert on issues of disability, migration, education. We take professional boys to work there. How we can put more volunteers on the ground is another of the big tasks. On the other hand, in order to reach more children we were forced to change the internal structure of our organization, dismantle the current organization chart and set up a new one, with the same number of players, the same budget and we are reaching twice as many children.
What else is América Solidaria doing, in addition to the proposed objectives?
Currently America Solidaria has a great north that is to work for the most vulnerable children of the continent, specifically in five thematic lines that we call our causes: education, childhood rights, migration, nutrition, disability and inclusion. For that, what we are doing with greater zeal is generating alliances with different actors. In Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, we work with state agencies and other social sectors.
Another concern of América Solidaria is how we collaborate today from Chile in the Colombian peace process. We have the vision that the most important social process of the continent is the construction of peace in Colombia, and how Chilean civil society can contribute in that. Last year we had a first approach on this issue and we are convinced that it is one of the most important peace reconstruction transformations at the American level.
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