Strengthening L.I.F.E. Argentina – travelling chingrita
Buenos Aires is the most popular city in South America for travellers to visit given its lush culture and history. With the allure of delicious Malbec accompanied with delicious asado (BBQ), stunning architecture and of course, the endless day and nighttime activities that will put your sensory system in overload.
Only two blocks away from the infamous Recoleta Cemetery, stands a simple brown door between a pizza place and lottery store. This humble door is the entrance to a non-profit organization, L.I.F.E. Argentina, that invests time and capital to impoverished children in Ciudad Oculta (Hidden City) of BA and a Guarani community in Peruti, Misiones.
Founder, Liliana Mocoroa, has dedicated the past 15+ years to build out this organization as a means to provide resources, hope and opportunites for those who are economically and socially disadvantaged.
What’s the significance of “L.I.F.E”?
Luchemos por una Infancia Feliz y con Esperanza.
Translated to English, “We strive for a childhood with happiness and hope.”
Lili’s passion and pursuit to help one of the most disadvantaged villas in Buenos Aires has been a driving force to her organization’s success. No different than anyone else, during the initial stages to penetrate the community Lili faced tremendous hurdles which included having stones thrown at her by residents as she knocked on their doors. Most individuals who face a situation like this would give up and call it quits; but her vision to provide opportunities to others was a key motivator.
Unlike non-profits in North America, L.I.F.E. is completely reliant on volunteers and donations from others as there is no government funding. Yes, education is free for all but the reality is that the government only provides the bare minimum. The costs associated with education (supplies, books, etc.) are not included, thus limiting the success of completing school.
A volunteer program is offered for foreigners that provides room and board at the offices for an immaterial fee. Living in BA? She’s always looking residents of Buenos Aires to help out and even has partnerships with local universities for internship opportunities.
Why the associated cost to volunteer? No, it’s not a scam.
With no government funding or consistent financing, operational expenses need to be taken care of and the excess cash is deployed into the on-going projects.
Lili’s strong nature and dedication has countlessly turned down offers to monetize off of the traveller trend to participate in “poor” tours.
Lili and I both agree that it doesn’t make sense for tourists to stare, gawk and take pictures of those who are disadvantaged as if they were animals in a zoo.
What I don’t understand? I’ve seen bloggers go off the rails about travellers riding elephants and taking pictures with sedated tigers in Thailand, but would consider taking part in such dehumanizing tours.
When did we start putting animals above human beings?
Deployment of Donations from Toronto
I had the opportunity to partner with L.I.F.E. to launch my non-profit initiative, Project #ShowSumLove. An initiative to inspire travellers of all styles to give back to causes they are passionate about during their travels.
It was truly an honour to spend the day with Lili to deploy 10,000 pesos (C$ 1,000) and travel-sized product donations that were collected in Toronto through my personal network. The kind hearts of donors allowed me to be their proxy to provide opportunities for women and children in the villa.
In a nutshell, donors have provided 160 underprivileged children with school supplies, toys, 2 new tables for the soup kitchen and 14 new chairs for the activity centre in the villa.
In honour of the launch of the project, C$1,000 were deployed for the sponsorship of two young girls: Brisa, 12, and Camila, 8.
Brisa, like her name, is soft, quiet and graceful with an incredible maternal sense as she watches over the younger children. Self-taught, she loves origami and has an incredible sense of detail and precision.
Camila, has a spirited personality that finds joy and happiness in all that she does. If there were clouds in sky, she would be the one who would bring out the sun and have it follow her wherever she may go.
I am a true believer of financial transparency, for a comprehensive breakdown on how funds were deployed, please »click here«
How can I help if I am not in Buenos Aires?
There are a number of ongoing projects and needs for L.I.F.E., please free to check out the website to see which project you would like to contribute to.
If you are feeling more generous, take the time to review the “godparent” section to sponsor a child.
Through the organization, the success stories have been incredible:
A young woman studying medicine as she continues to live in the villa, a young man who learned English and went to work in Poland and a number of graduates despite that 41% of students in university are foreigners.
For more details relating to this project, please navigate with the buttons below:
Use of Financial Donations (PDF) | Photo Gallery | Ciudad Oculta (Hidden City) – Villa 15 | L.I.F.E. Argentina Website