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CONI, our Wishmakers of the month celebrate solitary birthdays
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October 30, 2015  |  Written by M. Rodrigo Brao

Our wishmaker of the month is Alex Sebastián, founder of CONI. This non-profit organization was born among a group of young voluntary workers, who decided to coordinate their skills and focus on Guatemala. CONI, declared as Public Use in 2014, does not receive money from the State. Since their expenses are taken care of in Spain by private members, they guarantee that the support they receive is entirely invested in their projects in Guatemala. Imagination, hope, energy and enthusiasm are the tools they employ to search for new ways to get people involved. Proof of this is muchosmas.org, an original idea with which they propose to turn birthday parties into solidary events, which also teaches our children to be aware of inequalities worldwide. It´s not a question of helping but of having kids participate in the solutions.

Could you please describe the work that CONI does for those readers who are not familiar with your organization?

At CONI we work by supporting developing processes in indigenous communities in rural Guatemala, one of the most impoverished areas in all Latin America. We currently work in 3 od these communities.

The backbone of these initiatives is quality education but in a holistic way. A child who is mal nourished, has to work or is sick, cannot take advantage of education in order to break the cycle of poverty. That is why we integrate a series of complimentary programs such as health, nutrition, literacy classes for adults, gender empowerment, and micro credit projects. Only then will they be able to really thrive, independently of foreign cooperation.

What does going to school like for these children? How can it change their environment?

School is that magical pair of scissors that breaks the vicious cycle of poverty. It´s amazing to see the improvements in just one generation. School provides future opportunities while it integrates them socially so they can fully develop into citizens of the world. Luckily, we have their parents work together with us, even though most cannot read or write.

entrevista CONI muchosmas interior

At CONI you´ve launched the unique initiative muchosmas.org. How is it different from other solidary events?

muchosmas.org is our star project here in Spain. Everyone likes it because it´s proactive and requires enthusiasm and lots of fun.

The way it works is very simple. It basically consists in donating your birthday. Your son, for example, starts an online campaign and gets his friends and family to donate 200 euros which is what a child in Guatemala needs to go to school. And that is his gift: a gift to someone else.

How would you create awareness among first world children? How can parents teach them about inequalities?

Initiatives such as ours help finance other projects and are a wonderful tool to create awareness among kids. If we can get a child to ask that another be schooled for a birthday gift, we are changing the world in a click. This doesn’t mean he won´t have fun. He can promote his campaign among his friends, be the coordinator of his project and become an ambassador! But he will especially be moved because he´s changed a life.

Many people would rather commit to projects in their own countries. What would you say to them to make them see that their support is also important across borders?

If a child dies of hunger in Guatemala, if a hurricane destroys New Orleans, if a family has to flee from their home in Syria, the problem is ours as a global community. We live on a planet, which has a limited amount of resources, with a set of fixed economic and commercial rules. No matter where we live, we will notice the consequences and the problems and the causes are ours to manage.

How can our readers get involved?

Forget the taboos and stop helping. We all need to get involved, commit and participate in the solutions. We encourage kids to donate their birthday parties through muchosmas.org. They can alsosponsor one of our children in Guatemala or come work as volunteers. We also are in search of wishmakers!

Photo Credits: CONI

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