It has been a little over a week and a half since Christina and I started our internship at Pilares, and I think we are finally starting to understand and adapt to the organization’s mission and culture. Most of the hours we dedicate to our internship are completed at the small, quiet administrative office in Palermo with a few other staff members and volunteers; however, last Friday, Christina and I had the privilege to travel to the area Pilares serves: La Villa 21-24.
Before entering the Villa, we met the Director of Programs for Pilares, Francisco. He took us to the parish where the first program began, a location in the heart of the Villa that functions as a primary school, a parish, and a radio station. While we were there, we had the chance to talk to Francisco over mate about the programs’ initiatives and the struggles that the area has faced and continues to face. He says that while some conditions have improved, especially regarding the quality and availability of Pilares’ programs, other community issues have proven problematic. Now, one of Pilares’ main focuses is the malnutrition of children in the community, an affliction that seriously harms many people in the area, specifically children.
After talking to Francisco and gaining perspective on the primary education program, we then went down the street to CONIN, a center for maternal and child development. Upon arriving, Christina and I had the opportunity to volunteer in the daycare. She and I spent five hours playing on the floor of the playroom with the children – it was incredibly exhausting. However, it was in these hours that I achieved an understanding of the work Pilares accomplishes. The CONIN Center is a clean, fun environment where the children of the Villa can play as their mothers are helped with parenting concerns, household issues, and medical questions. While Christina and I were playing with the children, it was clear that they were having a great time; CONIN is a space where they can forget any issues they or their families are having at home and enjoy themselves. It was surprising to think about the poverty and difficult circumstances each of them came from and would be returning to later that day.
The families that live in Villa 21-24 are just like families anywhere; seeing them in the CONIN center, it is hard to understand the struggles they experience in their daily lives just down the street. Nonetheless, at its core, Villa 21-24 is a community full of families who have struggled to gain opportunities to develop, receive an education, work for a living, and keep themselves healthy. Pilares gives them these opportunities through its programs.
Thanks to this inside look at the Villa and our conversation with Francisco, Christina and I now know exactly what we need to communicate in our marketing for Pilares’ ninth- anniversary campaign. Every parent and child in the Villa have a very simple wish: to be granted the opportunity live well. The driving theme of everything Pilares does is opportunity, providing families with resources and safe spaces to develop and learn. As a result, the focus of our campaign for Pilares’ birthday is the concept of the wish. Throughout our campaign, we will be sharing the wishes of the families, staff, and volunteers at Pilares. Carla and Maggie (our internship supervisors) have been very supportive of the campaign idea, and with their continued help, Christina and I hope to be able to share these wishes, spread the mission, and attract new donors to Pilares very soon.