STEP BY STEP: Healthy habits for healthy communities
"STEP BY STEP is an initiative from AIESEC in Cali that aims to improve the lifestyle of a vulnerable community through activities related to health and good practices for life. Besides, it wants people to know about other cultures and understand that there is another world outside of where they live.
The project has the participation of young exchange participants form all aver the world that have the initiative to make a positive impact in the city.
-Give the community different tools about a better lifestyle, focussing on health issues and children.
-Make a cultural exchange between the community and the volunteers that are developing the project, creating an international and social environment.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
The objectives are achieved in the first place because of a very good plan of the project, since the human and economic resources, logistic, security and the right community. After that, a very good alliance with a foundation that has the knowledge about working with vulnerable communities; this is very important because both, community and volunteers, have to be aligned to guarantee the success of the project.
Finally, we do tracking to the activities and each week we do a feedback's time to check the activities and to propose new ones. Also, by communicating with all the people involved to ensure that we are achieving our purpose. Volunteers meetings, checking progress with the foundation, community visits and team meetings are vital to the success of the project.
It is an innovative project because it focuses on health issues but taking in account the community needs based on the Maslow scale and supplying the basic ones.
We try to work with the same community in each version talking about nutrition, sexuality, values, among others to be constant and to built confidence with them.
The project impacts different actors directly and indirectly. The first actor is the community where is developed the project, where more than 160 children and more than 40 families have been impacted in different topics such nutrition, sexuality and values. The second actor are the members of AISEC in Cali that have to work hardly to coordinate everything to make it possible and to bring exchange participants to develop the activities that give them a huge knowledge in education while they are helping others. Finally, the companies have an impact too because they are building a social conscience and responsibility through their donations and help.
The biggest challenges have been the understanding of the community context, including their needs, how they live and why they behave as they behave, and to transmit that information to the exchange participants that live a totally different reality. This situation makes that sometimes the activities have to be adjusted to what is going on in each day and sometimes is difficult to understand why. Another challenge is the cultural shock between the group of local and international volunteers and between the community, because each group live a different reality. In most cases people think they know how to work in a vulnerable community but they don't, and this experiences make them understand how difficult it could get to change a reality like theirs. It is always tough to think about what a community needs, because people are unpredictable, and trying to diagnose a whole community needs, make this job a hard task but no matter what, we do our best to fulfil this dream.
"The understanding of how we have to work in a vulnerable community was the main lesson; they are the ones who set the pace, not the volunteers.
Another important thing is that everything is a process and we can't pretend to educate and do everything right in the first try, it is about being constant and reliable.
Working as a whole was another valuable lesson. Having a team, exchangers willing to work for our community, volunteers taking further actions and a community is a whole team, that at the end, becomes your family. Indeed, this is a huge lesson to learn, how to keep an environment like this community save, while understanding the volunteers needs and wants. "