Thursday, February 21, 2013

Prevent Child Labor - Salta Argentina Youth Voice Issues that Matter Most

Of the 1,214,000 people residing in the city of Salta in Northwest Argentina, 17% live in rural conditions that are dependent on agricultural production for survival. Many of these are young people who sacrifice the opportunity to earn an education in order to make a living in the tobacco fields.

AsociaciĆ³n Conciencia was established to confront the challenges of Salta youth in the labor force. In 2003, Conciencia joined forces with Argentine tobacco companies to establish the Programa Porvenir, which operates educational centers in the rural tobacco zones of Salta and Jujuy. The mission of Programa Porvenir is to prevent child labor and to encourage educational development. Porvenir runs educational programs during the summer months, which provide kids and teenagers a chance to learn vocational skills and understand the importance of education.

This January, a group of UC Berkeley students traveled to Salta on an FSD Global Service Trip in support of the educational programming of Porvenir. The Berkeley students helped Porvenir to lead an audiovisual production workshop for Salta youth, designed to inspire a dialog on youth rights and labor issues. As part of the program, the participants created short films about the issues that mattered most to them. The Salta youth came away with video production skills and a visual expression of their views on human rights, addiction prevention, and gender related violence. Please show your support in watching these short videos, produced by the young people of Salta.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

FSD's Experience Catapulted James' Career in Sustainable Community Development

FSD’s International Internship Programs attract an impressively diverse range of participants from around the globe, but undoubtedly the common thread among our Intern alumni is that once they start on the path to sustainable community development, they never stop. James Sarria is an alumnus of two FSD trips, and an exemplar of how our alumni continue to make a lasting difference in every community they touch.

James first volunteered with FSD in 2007 through UC Berkeley’s DeCal Global Service Trip to Nicaragua. He returned to Argentina as a co-organizer of the trip, facilitating the semester-long DeCal course on sustainable development issues in South America. Today James is the Stanford Site Director of the Summer Math and Science Honors (SMASH) Academy, a 3-year 5-week summer math and science enrichment program that is free of cost for high-achieving, first generation high school students of color. The SMASH Academy provides resources to help level the playing field so these students have the same opportunity to achieve success in higher education as their peers in non-marginalized communities.

Working with over 100 students throughout the SF Bay Area requires James to keep a global perspective in mind, and he credits FSD with helping him foster a cross-cultural understanding as well as a passion for service and volunteerism at a young age: “What FSD creates is an opportunity for passionate, ideal and young scholars to experience what can’t be replicated in a classroom. FSD supported my desire to connect with people that are just like me, but just happen to live in another part of the world.” James fondly remembers his Argentinean host family as his favorite part of his trip, and acknowledges that this “importance of local knowledge of the FSD trip mirrors the importance to have local people managing sustainable development projects."

James continues to travel and engage in the international community, recently returning from a month in Bangladesh where he lived with a local family and worked in Lawachara National Park on service trips including reforestation and eco-tourism. In his professional and personal life, James carries the lessons he learned on his FSD trips with him, remarking: “We are all living on the same planet, using her resources and ultimately decisions I make in the US have significant, direct and immediate impact on the lives of people that we may never meet”. FSD is thrilled that interns such as James continue to be the change they wish to see in the world long after they have returned from their internship abroad.

Friday, February 01, 2013

FSD Support Tola Coop Partners with Awarded Grants

FSD was recently awarded a grant from Caridad Partners, a Bay Area women’s philanthropic giving circle, to support our ongoing community cooperatives initiative in Tola, Nicaragua. The grant funds three community cooperatives:

1) Cooperativo de servicios de consumo Mujeres, esperanza y fe sells sundries, food product staples, and other goods at affordable prices and targeting women consumers—and is starting a revolving loan program;

2) Cooperativo Textil Vestuario de Limon, a textile/sewing cooperative, provides quality, low-cost uniforms for local schoolchildren; and

3) Grupo Genesis, a bakery cooperative, is the first female-led enterprise in the Tola region now providing fresh-baked goods locally.

The cooperative initiative is a key driver to stimulating community leadership—and the local economy—in a greatly underserved region of Latin America’s second poorest country. Catalyzing community development since 1995, FSD is leading this region through a community mobilization, skills and leadership development movement.

The cooperative initiative started with a 40-hour training covering government regulations, accounting basics, coop governance, and group dynamics, and FSD is continuing to support the groups through a three-phase plan. The groups have also taken part in a business plan creation workshop and are now receiving ongoing project support as FSD connects the coops to its existing partners in similar fields. The grants will support continued leadership, business and personal development training, and market analysis and capital expansion plans. Over 400 people are estimated to benefit directly from the grant due to the increased income generated by the coops.