Nearly 1,000 social projects competing from across Latin America and the Caribbean, 7 South American countries represented by the 16 finalists (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay) and 6 winning projects – not to mention the possibility of sharing information with last year’s winners – was the outcome of the second cycle of the Experiences in Social Innovation award, which is organized by ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) with support from the Kellogg Foundation.
The winning project from the 2005/2006 cycle was Community Defenders: A community response to domestic violence, from Peru. Created by the Legal Defense Institute, an NGO, the program is designed to tackle abuse against women and children within the family environment through its community legal defense offices. Besides offering psychological support to the victims, the defenders accompany the legal proceedings of the cases brought against aggressors. According to Nohra Rey Marulanda, spokeswoman for the committee charged with evaluating the finalists and selecting the winners, the innovative aspect of this project lies in its proven capacity to mobilize the community and seal alliances with the public sector. “They developed a simple low-cost but high-impact strategy,” she said.
The second place winner was the project Support System for Teens in Foster Care, from Argentina. This is a correctional initiative that seeks to rehabilitate young offenders without the need for incarceration. They receive a grant to cover their living expenses and education and they are monitored by an officer appointed by the program during this process. “Since 2004, we have worked with 982 young people. Of these, only four reoffended,” explained Verónica Canale, subsecretary of the Office of the Attorney General of the Buenos Aires Supreme Court.
Third place was shared by two rural development, income generation and food security projects: Sustainable Trout Production, from Peru, and Traditional Seeds Recovery, from Colombia. In fourth place came the program Responsible Health for All, from Paraguay. And coming fifth was Pintando o Sete (‘Mischief Makers’), which develops an educational inclusion program for the visually impaired.
For José Luís Machinea, executive secretary of ECLAC, the second cycle of the Experiences in Social Innovation award clearly demonstrated the creative and transformational capacity of Latin American and Caribbean social organizations. “In all these projects, we can note a strong desire to participate in the pursuit of solutions for the historic problems faced by people in the region.”
Interview | Rocío Franco Valdívia, from NGO Legal Defense Institute
“Our Key Objective is to Reduce Aggression Against Women and Children”
Psychologist Rocío Franco Valdívia, from the NGO Legal Defense Institute, and a consultant for the Community Defenders in the region of Cuzco, in Peru, explains the workings of the Innovation award’s winning project.
Why is this project so important?
Nearly 50% of Peruvians, according to official sources, have been victims of abuse. In rural areas, this figure rises to 67%. The Defenders are, today, the community’s only recourse against domestic violence.
How many people have already benefited from the work of the Defenders? Nearly 65,000 people, in its five years of operation.
Are there any cases in which the aggressors have been arrested?
There are several. One such case involved a man who abused two sisters, one aged 18 and the other 15. Both got pregnant. To begin with, it was thought that making him marry the older of the two would be the best means of reparation. But it didn’t work out. He tried to abuse another sister from the same family, just 8 years old, and was reported. The Defenders intervened and he was arrested.
Published in Interaction nº 19