Paraguay - Giving something back


Giving something back

The best way to help is usually financial, but where volunteer opportunities exist this has been mentioned. If you would like to help with the care of orphaned or abandoned children, SOS Children’s Villages (Asunción office: Cerro Corá 1155, Asunción; tel: 021 227345; email: ana.medina@aldeasinfantiles.org.py; www.aldeasinfantiles.org.py) have five homes for children known as the Aldeas (‘Villages’), in San Ignacio, Hohenau, Asunción, Luque and Belén. You can make a donation online, or become a godparent or a friend of the Aldeas.

If you would like to help on environmental projects, the World Wide Fund for Nature is working on reforestation in Paraguay (Coordinación de voluntariado, WWF Paraguay Atlantic Forest Ecoregional Office, Las Palmas 185 c/ Av Argaña, Ciudad de Lambaré, Asunción: tel: +595 21 331766/21 303100; email: voluntariado@wwf.org.py; www.wwf.org.py). It is trying to conserve the Atlantic Forest in Alto Paraná, and aims to plant 50 million trees in a project called A todo pulmón – Paraguay respira (‘With all its lungs, Paraguay breathes’).

Pa'I Puku School Paraguay South America by Marco MuscaraThe Pa'I Puku School is run for children with poor families and the furniture made by the pupils is highly sought after © Marco Muscarà

A charity called Para La Tierra (contact Karina; mobile: 0985 260074; email: karina@ paralatierra.org; www.paralatierra.org) takes volunteers to an interesting site in the Cerrado, Laguna Blanca. You pay to volunteer, but can go for as short a time as one week. The work involves conservation and recording wildlife.

The Fundación Paraguaya does good work in offering microfinance and entrepreuneruial education, and they have a website in English (www.fundacionparaguaya.org.py). They have helped two excellent agricultural schools to get up and running on a self-sufficient basis (Hotel Cerrito in the Chaco and Mbaracayú Lodge in the North East). They take volunteers if they have excellent Spanish and are over 20, but this has a cost (click ‘Internships’ on the website).

Dequení (www.dequeni.org.py) is a well-established foundation that works primarily with children from poor communities. It offers protection to children at risk, runs community centres and gives training to help young people from poor communities find work.

If you would like to help with the nutrition of poor children living in the bañado of Asunción, there are daily lunch canteens run by the organisation Ko’eju (15 de agosto 10, opposite the Congress; tel: 021 445446/497333; www.koeju.org), which means ‘dawn’ in Guaraní. The canteens began in 2002 in the Chacarita, where 350 children are still fed daily, and they have spread now to 20 other areas. Ko’eju is run by Luis and Olga Manfredi, pastors of the Centro Familiar de Adoración church.

The Jesuit programme for the education of the poor in Latin America is called Fe y Alegría, and naturally there is a Paraguayan branch (O’Leary 1847, c/ Séptima Proyectada; tel: 021 371659/390576; email: comunicaciones@feyalegria.org.py; www.feyalegria.org.py). It does excellent work, running schools for the poor, training programmes for community leaders, and radio schools to teach literacy, particularly in Guaraní. Sometimes they take volunteers, particularly from Spain, but not for short periods.

A charity that works principally in giving scholarships for tertiary level education to bright students from poor homes is the Santa Maria Education Fund (UK registered charity no.1105031; email: info@santamariadefe.org; www.santamariadefe.org). It was founded by the author of this guide, and its projects can be visited in Santa María de Fe, Misiones. It takes a limited number of volunteers as English teachers, but they must be fluent in Spanish and fill specific job slots – usually five months to a year. Short-term visitors can sometimes help by transporting books from England.

If you live in England, one way of helping is via the Anglo Paraguayan Association (email: anglopysociety@yahoo.com; www.paraguaysocietyuk.org). It has a very small fund which it administers, in order to help a number of different projects. Because the organisation is largely composed of Paraguayans who have come to live in England, they have excellent feelers for small projects that deserve aid.

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