The launch was attended by the Chilean Ambassador in the United States, Juan Gabriel Valdés. During the event, the ambassador shared the message that Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, specially sent for the commemoration of the foundation’s first year in the U.S. “I take great pride in this news, because since its launch in Chile thirteen years, América Solidaria, and the young professionals who comprise it, have been the greatest example of how collective effort and work can change the immediate reality of the communities who are most in need in our continent”. President Bachelet also indicated that “This, because it is not just about the main initiative of the volunteer work in the region, but also a concrete example of integration, is something that reminds us that there are no borders when it comes to helping the most vulnerable individuals”.
CEO and Founder of América Solidaria International, Benito Baranda, emphasized the wishes of the foundation to involve more young individuals “because they are the ones who can go beyond borders and overcome old ideologies and put their professional knowledge to work, serving the most vulnerable communities of the continent”. He also added, “these young professionals learn out in the field that solidarity and the search for justice require effort and sacrifice”. He also called for “everyone to join us in this campaign so that 100 new professionals can join this immense effort to transform an entire continent into a more just and caring America”.
The first anniversary of the office in the United States coincided with the deployment of the first 7 American professionals selected by our Washington, D.C. office to work on projects related to education, health, and economic development in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Haiti; this also coincided with the arrival of the first Latin American professional fellows in the United States. As one of the few civil society organizations based in Latin America that currently works on overcoming poverty and continental development beyond its borders, there are now 7 professionals who for a year have worked on serving the most vulnerable communities in the United States. The projects range from working with migrants in San Antonio, Texas with the Bernardo Kohler Foundation, to working on computer literary with the Firefox browser’s host organization, Mozilla Foundation, in Brooklyn, and from working in Virginia with the Ayuda organization, to working with African-American youths in Washington, DC at Columbia Heights’ Latin American Youth Center.
In 13 years, América Solidaria has worked in 13 countries across the continent under an innovative model of cooperation in the Americas, benefitting more than 33,000 people a year, through 330 development projects thanks to the support of around 550 professional fellows who have worked on serving the people of the continent. In doing so, América Solidaria is a concrete example of the integration between countries in the region and of a country that wants inclusive relationships, and that understands international cooperation as a mutual value and strives towards achieving equal development.
Chairwomen of América Solidaria U.S., Kellie Meiman, Executive Director, Sebastián Villarreal; board members; individuals from the diplomatic world, businesspeople, and important civil organizations were all in attendance.
The launch was sponsored and supported by the Chilean Embassy in the United States, Lan, Fundación Ena Craig de Luksic, Fundación Colunga, CorpBanca New York, and Viña San Pedro (1865 Single Vineyard).