The Argentinian NGO “Juntando Sonrisas” focuses on fulfilling the basic needs of small children to achieve human development.
Guillermo Robles has a vision of progress closely linked to equality. Lawyer, social entrepreneur, and founder of the NGO “Juntando Sonrisas”, he speaks emphatically about the responsibility we all have for the most vulnerable classes in an increasingly technological and globalized world. Especially aware of educating the most disadvantaged members of society, Robles defends the need for the great young social mass in emerging countries to be able to bring knowledge and innovation to our communities. It is, therefore, a contrary vision that only a minority should have access to the necessary educational and technological resources.
This young man only twenty five years of age was one of the representatives from Argentina at the Congress of Ibero-American Leaders organized by Santander Bank and the Carolina Foundation a few weeks ago. Amongst other questions, and always arguing his position with the rest of those selected, emphasized the social inequalities that exist in his own country, Argentina, applicable more or less accross Latin America.
With “Juntando Sonrisas”, Robles works with other young people to reduce the effect of poverty on the most vulnerable children in Argentina. “We base our action on three fundamental pillars capable of promoting social change: bread, education, and work.” Currently, almost 150 volunteers make up the organization and act on three working fronts: the neighborhoods of Villa Boedo and El Chaparral in the city of Córdoba, and “Juntando Sonrisas Tránsito”, 92 kilometres from the Province Capital.
The fundamental motivation for the organization is to satisfy the basic needs for human development. In fact, it was one of the most discussed topics during the conference, amongst a number of other things on a busy schedule, that allowed the young men and women to visit Spanish and European public institutions. In addition, the Congress of Latin American Young Leaders gave the selected participants the opportunity to discover and get to know different political and social projects in depth from various regions of Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. “Political change must be something taken into account by our generation. Today problems require new, time-appropriate solutions. ”
However, if there is one thing that most makes up the identity of the initiatives like that of Robles, it is its commitment to education. As a part of their NGO they realize that “Education is the fundamental vector in promoting social mobility. It acts as an equalizer when it comes to opportunity”. Aware of the privileges that he had for his own education, he wants other children in his country not to heed the shortfalls imposed by their social condition, and this way enabling them to work in a future in which they decide. Work, they say, is the third of the group’s pillars: the most important tool of human dignity and the source that sustains the household.
In “Juntando Sonrisas” centres more than 500 children are served, and coverage and support are given to their families. They’re provided with attention in the school environment, offering them community dining halls, management and promoting art workshops and sporting activities. “But it’s not enough, we need to reach them even farther.” Behind any of them could be the inventor of a cure to a disease, or the next international leader in the fight against climate change. But above all, there is a child that deserves to grow up healthy, educated, and happy.
The belief that birthplace should not determine the future of individuals was one of the most talked about topics among the young leaders who met in Madrid and, regardless of origin, got together in the spirit of individual entrepreneurship or of the power to transform our societies and achieve equality within its youngest individuals.