My name is Elias Santos Dubon and I live in the community of El Pital. I have been working for Un Mundo as the Project Coordinator, organizing all the different projects with the Cangrejal Valley, among which I have had many difficulties and succeses.. I started my work with Un Mundo in March of 2011.
In July of 2010, I began my journey with Un Mundo as one of the first practicum students that Un Mundo had ever received. During my practicum, I worked on the special education Project, where I helped conduct community survey’s evaluating all the individuals with various special needs in the rural Cangrejal Valley. I had an incredibly unique experience where I learned many things which continue to help me such as understanding the necesity to improve the development and learning for children with special needs. Additionally the experience taught me how to treat children, now understanding that this work requires positive energy and a committment to volunteering.
It was no simple task to complete the special needs investigation during my practicum because we often had to hike 5 hours to get to some of the communities where the children live. But dispute the difficulty, I did each activity with love and affection. During the month of June, upon completion of the investigations, I prepared a presentation for the parents of the involved children. Although a good learning experience, this was very challenging for me to speak in front of many adults and professionals who were much older than me, especially becuase I did not feel completely prepared to present all the information about the Project, especially since I was still learning myself. However, despite my apprehension, I did the presentation and everything went great!
After two months working for Un Mundo at the end of August 2010, I completed my practicum, not quite really to return to school because I was actually beginning to enjoy working with the organization and it was hard to leave this positive environment that I had begun to feel a part of. I continued to work as a volunteer for Un Mundo after I completed my praticum, helping gain more work experience which I thought could eventually help me with future jobs or continuing to study. During the months I was volunteering, I showed my strong interest in the projects and work, however I never imagined I would become a employee of Un Mundo.
In March 1 of 2011, Un Mundo hired me to work with the organization in the role of Project coordinador. This day was such a special moment for me because I had obtained work in my own community, allowing me to help my parent economically, providing me access to improve my life. I also felt somewhat prepared for the work given my understanding and knowledge of the organization. During the past few months, I have worked so hard to complete the responsibilities expected of me of all the Project Coordinator for Un Mundo. I have had many successes and many challenges.
Sometime I experience things that make me want to cry because I encounter such poverty and illness in the communities, where the people often have no one to help their situation. At times this had made me so sad, but at the same time has helped me understand the need and how to treat and help other people. It has also taught me to value the work and opinions of each and every person despite their age or level of education.
Given many of these struggles that I have witnessed, we have many great projects to help and bring happiness to many people in this region. One our the projects that I work most closely with is the Library project, which has two programming activities per month; the mobile library (bibliobandido) and the story time in El Pital.
Leading the bibliobandido project, we face many challenges such as changing the way people’s view of reading or sometime we don’t have enough volunteers to carry out an activity. Additionally this activity is super challenging because this activity takes place in the most remote communities in the Valley, sometimes having to walk for hours, often arriving to a community really tired with little energy to ensure a successful activity. The abilities or personalities of the children are really different in each community, some making it hard to plan well. For example in some communities the children are curious, playful and happy and in others they are timid, afraid or have minimal education. However the kids are in each community is never their fault, only simply a result of having little access to resources because these communities are really far away from the main road. All of these experiences have been difficult because we have not always been prepared to deal with all these differences and due to this we aren’t always able to meet tour project goals.
While there have been many struggles, there have also been many successes such as developing leadership among three kids from my own community named Melvin, Danny y Denny. These three kids are in charge of the mobile library Project and story time. I feel very proud of them for the leadership role that they have taken on with this important Project. I have learned so much from the people within the organization and how to prepare other people like these three kids to be leaders and have us all be examples for the rest of our community.