Posted by: Ali | October 14, 2009

La Semilla

Yesterday we went to visit a new placement!  It was really exciting, because this was another placement that I found!  Me!  All by my self.  Well it’s not really much of a discovery I guess if you know where to look, turns out this organization already gets some funding from CIDA – the Canadian International Development Agency, a government agency that I know very much about. (And wouldn’t mind working for!)

Anyways the organization is called La Semilla, which translates to “The Seed.”  Most of their work is with children, as they have discovered that children from poor families do worse in school.  Their general goal is to help kids do better in school, so they focus on those who are doing worse, i.e. the poor ones.

This organization is very well established; they were founded in 1982.  So they have many different projects going on that help them accomplish this goal, and they tackle the problem from many different angles.

Children and the Environment

This project is done in an urban setting so it’s not really a very environmental placement like Tierra de Ninos in Huacarpay, but the idea is to teach children that a clean environment is important to one’s health.  If there is pollution and garbage all over the place, you are more likely to get sick.  If you get sick, you can’t go to school.  So they are teaching children to clean up their neighbourhoods for a healthier community.

Education for Child Labourers

Yeah, child labour sucks.  But an unfortunate thing about it, that I discovered in my years of school, is that there’s no easy solution.  You can’t just crack down and say “no child labour” – because then, if all the current child labourers stopped working, without that income they might starve to death or resort to crime to get by.  You need a longer-term approach to the problem that accepts child labour as a result of present circumstances, then tries to address the circumstances to prevent future children from having to become child labourers, while at the same time working with current child labourers to ensure that they go on to become productive members of society.  So yeah.  That’s about what they do with this project, complicated, no?

Broadcasting for Youth

So this is a reasonably common theme in development, although to your average Canadian it sounds kind of weird.  Think back in history and think of what a revolution the printing press was.  Suddenly people could share ideas much more easily, and the result was the Reformation of the church.  Same general idea in development studies.  Someone came up with the idea one day of giving a group of poor Third World activists a radio broadcaster, and suddenly they could communicate with a much wider audience, organize and build networks, and work towards social change.  Development workers have also experimented with doing drama workshops with youth in poor communities, and found that the youth would start putting together plays that showed creative solutions to the circumstances of their lives.  Communication and expression are important tools for empowering the poor.  Whoa, I feel like i’m preaching or back in school or something.

Community Development

A lot of the communities La Semilla works with are full of people who have been forced to leave their homes because of political violence.  I didn’t actually know about that, but it makes a degree of sense.  So a lot of the people in these slums are essentially refugees.  La Semilla has a project to help develop these communities by planting gardens, building libraries and playgrounds, that sort of thing.

Education for At-Risk Youth

This one is like a youth group sort of thing.  Volunteers help out with workshops and discussions about teen issues, like pregnancy, STDs, HIV/AIDS, gang violence, drugs, alcohol, abuse, and stuff like that.

Capacity-Building for Women

Last one, and not focused on children and youth.  This one works with their mothers, helping them get better jobs and stuff like that.  They put on workshops teaching women how to make various handicrafts, and help with marketing and sales.  They also give out micro-loans (I think) or at least they help women obtain loans for businesses.


  1. […] couple weeks ago I posted about La Semilla, an NGO that works with poor children.  Well today I went out to the slums to do a site inspection […]


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