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  • Anisa Gallagher

Looking back, moving forward

As we gear up for another year of kicking poverty’s ass, we’ve decided to reflect on all that we achieved last year and all of the challenges that we faced. 2020 has certainly been one to remember. Over the past year, we’ve faced some of the biggest and most complex challenges in recent memory, but we’ve come through the other side stronger than ever. Our mission of empowering young people, encouraging citizen participation and tackling many other deeply entrenched social problems is still going strong.

So, what happened in 2020?

2020 was gearing up to be a blockbuster year for our organisation. We had planned a stacked calendar, with twelve different programs in the books, designed to engage and develop children aged 7-18 in subjects including creativity, sports, cooking, photography and coding, with 180 children in total scheduled to take part. We had big plans for our innovative Ciudades Felices (Happy Cities) festival – planned to take place in two cities in Argentina. We were fundraising for an end of year trip to Buenos Aires for the children and families that we work with. We had eight months of activities planned, from Hockey Power to our Crash Lab, with daily interactions with our kids scheduled for the whole duration. We were excited to get the year started and to continue making a difference to the lives of as many children as possible – confident that, with our detailed planning, nothing could stop us. 2020 was going to be El Desafio’s most successful yet! Little did we know…

Coronavirus strikes

Despite our best laid plans, the pandemic proved to be an incredibly challenging time for many people in Argentina. A strict lockdown was enacted on March 18, travel was restricted, and face-to-face interaction was permitted only for essential workers. Schools weren’t able to provide in-person lessons for the entire year and children were forced instead to learn virtually, as many children across the world also were. On peripheral areas of Argentina, however, many families had (and continue to have) limited access to the internet, reducing their ability to engage with their education and considerably restricting their academic development. Furthermore, for households living in poverty, there is often only one mobile device that has access to the internet, on which adults are often dependent for work purposes, which reduces its availability for the children to utilise for their learning. Exacerbating this even further was rising unemployment, which affected many families and had severe consequences for the wellbeing and education of children whose parents or guardians lost their jobs. As a result of these unfortunate developments, we decided to realign our resources and attentions in order to address the new challenge that had been placed in front of us: tackling 2020.

What did we do?

Because of the extraordinary circumstances, our usual activities were temporarily sidelined. We, as an organisation, were tested like never before, but we still adhered to our commitment to support the communities in Rosario. We maintained weekly contact with each family in order to assess needs and provide assistance, which ranged from simply listening to families to providing grocery assistance cards to those in extreme need. We helped families connect with relevant government agencies and proposed activities and challenges for families to do for fun and relaxation. We were determined to maintain the joy that we imbue throughout all of our programmes, projects, and people.

This is El Desafio, 2021…

So, what’s next for El Desafío? Now that we are on the other side of our most challenging year yet, we’re more confident than ever in our organisation’s resilience, as well as in our ability to help, empower, and champion. As we draw ever closer to the end of the festive period in Argentina, we’re currently preparing to launch some of the most ambitious projects that we’ve ever implemented in order to help as many children and families as possible. Stay tuned, follow us on social media, donate and share! Join us in making this year the best yet for El Desafío.

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