Thursday, 15 October 2009

El Desafio in GlobalGiving

El Desafio became part of the GlobalGiving network, which basically allow us to receive donations trough that organization. GlobalGiving is based in the US and offers easy ways to donate to the project of your choice. You can pay with credit card, check or paypal, and you can choose for a one time donation or monthly one. If you are a US resident you can even deduct the tax from your donation! Check the site of GlobalGiving and our projects there for more info.

Link to GlobalGiving here

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Mario Raimondi, our co-founder, awarded with the Social Ambassador prize

Our co-founder Mario Raimondi was awarded with the Social Ambassador prize given by the NGO Help Argentina and Ministery of Foreign Affaires of Argentina. The award ceremony was hosted in San Martin palace in Buenos Aires last 1st September with around 150 people invited. The prize has the objetive to recognize those that living abroad help Argentina in a social cause. There were in total fifty nominations from ten countries, to finally reward five people. The winners were chosen by a jury including football player Javier Zanetti.

The award was accepted by Mario as a recognition of all the work of El Desafio and all the people that make us a reality: volunteers, staff, donors, sponsors, partners and obviously -the real heroes- the children.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Last April, the basic dutch school JPS Dekring organized an argentinean project week. All the students –from 4 to 11 years old-, studied Argentinean history, culture, geography and much more, in where of course Tango or football were not missing. The organizers invited to the final day of the project, Friday 17. We went there and we were surprised by a ‘bazaar’ in where each course prepared their own Argentinean stands to fundraise money for El Desafio. There was everything: Argentinean empanadas, “chimichurri” made by the kids, tango groups, gauchos, handcrafts and the whole school decorated with Argentinean flags and the colours white and light blue. The children also learned the whole week about El Desafio and ‘our’ children, and decided to do their part.

Pics in flickr here

School's website

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Video programma's 2008/2009 verteld door docenten - English subtitles

El Desafio @ project week basisschool JPS De Kring

Deze week wordt er op basisschool JPS De Kring in Rijen een projectweek georganiseerd over Argentinië. Tijdens de week zullen de kinderen meer te weten komen over het land en haar cultuur. Zo wordt er natuurlijk over het land verteld, worden onder andere mate en verschillende hapjes geproefd, krijgen de kinderen een spoedcursus Spaans, zal de tango niet ontbreken, en nog veel meer... We zijn als El Desafio erg blij dat naast alle het positieve dat Argentini ë te bieden heeft, ook aandacht wordt geschonken aan de Argentijnse kinderen die in armoede moeten opgroeien. Samen kunnen we de wereld een beetje beter maken. Klik hier voor meer informatie.

This week a project week about Argentina is organized on primary school JPS De Kring in Rijen. During this week the kids will learn more about the country and her culture. The teachers will tell the kids about Argentina, but the kids can also taste mate and different Argentinean delicatessen, they will get a course Spanish, dance the tango, and there will be a lot of other cool things to do... El Desafio is very happy that besides all the positive things Argentina has to offer the school won't forget the Argentinean kids who have to grow up in poverty. Together we can make the world a bit better. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

El Desafio's 2008: a recap by Mario Raimondi

Dear all,

2008 has passed and I would like to share the recap of our organization’s year. It has been an incredible year for us and it’s difficult to keep it short, but I will try.

The year started with big plans both in Holland and Argentina, after the solid grow we had in 2007. So we’ve planned different objectives that meant a quality step for El Desafio. We faced many challenges during the year, some of them out of our control (financial crisis, an historic 3 month farmer strike in Argentina that paralyzed the country, etc), but we could react quick and adjust to every situation. Our organization started literally from scratch, without initial capital, and slowly has been able to win it’s space within bigger NGO landscape of NGO with way more resources which are also trying to win the public’s confidence and support. That’s why we came up with a realistic, creative and ambitious communication plan. One of our strong points is that we can connect with people and other parties in an efficient way, and 2008 was a clear example of that.

We added the sports program, educational support and ‘Merienda’ (afternoon meal) to the existing ones Murga and Psychological assistance. The children attented five programs during the week, and this strenghtened our contact with them and allowed us to know more about their reality to be able to help them.

We’ve also renovated a room from the school that was abandoned. Our activities are taking place there now. Thanks to the help of architects and suppliers friends of El Desafio we could bring the costs as down as possible. The opening was in August, after some delays due to the farmers strike in Argentina. This renovation was possible also thanks to a grant we’ve received from ImpulsIS , a charity fund from Holland; that also meant the first official support from an organization like that.

Another program is ready to be up and running in March 09, the E-learning one. This program depended on the room renovation and many other difficult factors to coordinate. Thanks to UFS IT that donated 12 computer terminals, and TinQwise that is helping us to develop the program itself, we are planning to have it ready to go soon.

Our staff
Our staff of professionals working directly with the children grew from 4 to 8 people; and they performed excellent in all the areas. The team has a great capacity to absorb and learn from the environment of the children very fast. Their hard work, professionalism and dedication of each of them has been an inspiration for everyone.

Another part of our human resources is our volunteer staff, both in Holland and Argentina. We are talking about 20 people in total who have been donating time, contacts, ideas, money and everything they could to make the foundation a reality. A lot of times it is really challenging to work with limited resources and these people came up with creative solutions and a lot of hard work. Only because of them El Desafio can be what it is.

The relationship with the local community in Rosario
The relationship became stronger, and we have been working side by side with the school and city health centres. We have been sharing information with both parties and the children benefited thanks to that. Sometimes we have different point of views with the school on the way we want to do things, but what is really important is that we share the same objective: to truly help the children and the community, no other interests are involved.

We’ve have been visiting the children personally in their homes, getting in very poor –and dangerous- areas and checking the living conditions of each of them. We have checked every child's health condition with doctors and followed up with treatments in specific cases.

The power of inspiring
We’ve thought that 2008 was the year to spread our message to all the people possible but in a personal and inspiring way. Few organizations have the power of inspiring and getting such good reactions from the public, and we’ve benefited from that.

In Holland we’ve launched the initiative Mateando, in where people co-hosted a meeting with us, in their own homes with their own friends. We presented Argentina's background to them, talked about the country, gave Argentinean delicatessen to taste and then told about our foundation. This was a perfect and personalized way to connect with the public.

In September we had a great event in Amsterdam, thanks to the support of many companies and artists like Aimee Zito Lema, Isabel Capelli and San Telmo Lounge. The Agridulce event showed the two faces of Argentina to 130 people aproximately in an inspiring and fresh way. Lot of people signed in as donors and volunteers that night.

In Rosario, last December, we organized our ‘Otra Parte’ (other side) event. 350 people showed up and took the attention of the local media. In a dynamic and creative way, El Desafio told it’s story to the local public and inspired almost everyone in the room. The results were incredible: we’ve received donations on site, more than 30 new donors, 60 volunteers, companies willing to help and other NGO’s interested in us. In a country were corruption is almost everywhere, to win the confidence of the public is very difficult, that’s why the results take an incredible dimension. Alejandra Garcia (the most important female pole vaulter of Argentina all times) and San Telmo Lounge participated in the event, showing their commitment and honouring El Desafio. The Murga performed that day too, for the first time in front of so many people.

Besides this actions, we had our classic fundraising hockey clinics (4 in total in both countries), Run For Argentina and Bike For Life, organized by Cisco Systems (Conexion group).

Thanks to the events and the work of our staff, we’ve managed to get a lot of free publicity in the media in both countries.

The most significant were an interview in the Metro newspaper in Holland, more than 20 publications in internet sites and 6 live interviews in Rosario radio programs. Also Alejandra Garcia participated in a very popular TV show from Argentina and talked around 4 minutes live about El Desafio on national television.

Finances and efficiency
From 2006 to 2007 our income grew around 50% (3500 Euros to 7200 Euros). I’m happy to confirm that in 2008 the growth has been of 170%, reaching 20000 Euros.

We have also achieved our commitment of spending at least 80% of all our income in the programs directly.

(These numbers are preliminary ones since the fiscal year just closed and our accountants are working on it right now)

Institutional relationships
We’ve invested a lot of time in learning from other NGO’s and looking for cooperation agreements. We have been in contact with organizations like Ashoka, Avina, Defensores del Chaco, Poder Ciudadano and Fundación DAD. We’ve also worked close to Laureus Foundation, that late December confirmed their support to finance our sport program for 2009 and work together in the development of it.

In February we’ve competed in a worldwide contest of Ashoka and NIKE, presenting our Murga program as a vehicle of social inclusion. Of a total of 450 candidates, we’ve finished in the first 30th, which is great.

The impact on the children and their families
-In 2007 we had an yearly attendance to our programs of 44%. This number raised to 64% in 2008, showing that the motivation and commitment of the children and families are also raising.
-We have improved the learning process and avoid children dropping out of school.
-The children learnt principles and values that were unknown for them till now. Today they no longer express themselves with violence or aggression. Now they are able to share, to work together, to think of his team mate first, to be responsible and have solidarity.
-The Murga performed in our 'Otra Parte' event and the experience was clearly a before and after in the lifes of the children. That day they were nervous, with cramps in their stomachs and frightened. The fact that they could face their fear and performed in front of 350 strangers in a big hall was the equivalent to win a gold medal with record included. To hear the clapping and cheering of the public isnice for any person, but for these kids that are socially excluded it takes a bigger dimension. That day they felt as a team, recognized and with one identity.

What’s coming
As I could not be any other way, this year started full of ideas and renewed challenges. We want to keep on growing in quality and quantity. We are planning to include more children to our programs, work closely with the community and the familiar group, add hygiene, micro productive and teenagers programs, keep on developing the relationship with the school, improve our management structure, keep on building our financial base, improve our communication with a new website, newsletters, keep on being transparent, inspire new people and put in action our current volunteers...the list is long and ambitious –El Desafio way-, but at this point and with a hand on your heart, does anyone really doubt that it is possible to do it?

Together, we are doing it.
I thank everyone that made a part –big or small- to make all this possible. I stay available for anything and please feel free to forward this message to whoever you like. Big hug for all and the best for 2009!

Mario Raimondi

Co-founder & President of El Desafio Foundation