Ringing in the New Year with Community Transformation and Change: Desafío Levantemos Chile

This Story of Impact is part of our United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) feature series.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

These six Stories of Impact feature the top three most funded and bottom three least funded SDGs by CAF America donors. More information can be found in our latest SDG Report, The SDG Giving Landscape, Seven Years of Grantmaking for Sustainable Development.

Fostering Sustainable Communities in Chile

At the age of 83, Carlos, who was from a small town in Chile, faced uncertainty when he lost his food harvest, leaving him anxious about surviving the winter. And, Jane, a mother of three, found herself in need of employment to sustain her children’s education, with her hair salon business being her only source of income. Fortunately, a remarkable grassroots organization dedicated to assisting community members stepped in, providing crucial support to both Carlos and Jane.

Desafío Levantemos Chile seeks to help communities and individuals in Chile experiencing emergency situations, just like Carlos and Jane—two of the thousands of community members they have served. They provide sustainable solutions to public problems, empowering civil society, pushing people to stand up for themselves in order to generate a Chile with greater opportunities, actively contributing to the realization of SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Through its commitment to quality and sustainability, Desafío Levantemos Chile has helped transform impoverished urban areas into prosperous and viable communities. They understand that building sustainable cities starts with empowering the people living in them, with their approach going beyond constructing physical infrastructure and instead nurturing human potential and fostering self-sufficiency. With a successful track record in implementing more than 1,000 projects, Desafío Levantemos Chile has positively impacted the lives of almost one and a half million people. These projects are strategically structured in key areas, including education, entrepreneurship, health, social development and emergency response.

Seagull stands among trash-covered beaches of Henderson Island

Image: Limache Community Members gather in their new center built by Desafío Levantemos Chile

Volunteer team treks through the waters cleaning up trash surrounding Henderson Island beach

Image: Desafío Levantemos Chile celebrates giving access to drinking water to 50 families from the commune of Santa Juana, Biobio Region

Partnership with CAF America

CAF America and Desafío Levantemos Chile began their partnership in 2018, as a part of a long-term recovery strategy wildfires struck regions throughout Chile. One of the affected areas was the city of Limache, and with CAF America’s support, Desafío Levantemos Chile built a community center after input from community members to gain an understanding of where assistance was needed most.

“We feel very grateful that our headquarters have been returned to us. It is a peace of mind for all of us to know that we have recovered that space we had to meet and carry out our activities.”

Mary Esther, Limache Community Member

“What we are delivering today is part of the heart of Callejón Cabrera. This construction exemplifies the effort, work and unity of this sector.”

Daniel Morales, Mayor of Limache

They also contributed to the Mobile COVID Vaccination Project, a collaboration between the private and public sectors. Despite challenges like increased costs and material availability issues, the project successfully vaccinated over 55,000 people in remote areas, contributing significantly to the Chilean government’s vaccination rate goal.

In 2021, the organization’s focus shifted to aiding vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Desafío Levantemos Chile tailored their assistance, providing health, food, and clean supplies kits to affected communities. Over $50,000 in funds facilitated the distribution of essential items, including soap, detergent, toilet paper, and alcohol gel, reaching 479 households. Support extended to COVID tests, mobile clinics, monitors, and health equipment for those facing economic hardships.

In the last year, we partnered to construct multi-use rehabilitation centers in the Puente Alto district. This initiative not only addressed the lingering impacts of Long COVID, but also tackled issues like functional capacity, speech disturbances, and cardiovascular disorders. The rehabilitation centers saw over 1,200 individuals attend 10,500 sessions, surpassing annual goals and reducing waiting lists by 50%. Notably, the project extended support to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, providing 1,561 interventions since August.

Desafío Levantemos Chile exemplifies sustainable urban development aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 11, striving to improve community well-being and promote dignity for all residents. The NGO serves as a reminder that with dedication and vision, we can turn challenging environments into thriving ones, inspiring us to help build more sustainable cities and communities around the globe.

“For me it was really a great benefit to be able to have new rooms for our rehabilitation close to my home. Before I had to go to a much farther place. They are modern and have everything I needed to be able to have better health. I thank everyone who helped us and thought of us.”

George, community member benefiting from the Mobile Vaccination Clinic

“I can proudly say that as of July 2020, the Municipality of Puente Alto was a pioneer in attending to patients who needed rehabilitation after becoming ill with COVID, many of whom had not had a response from the central level. However, the demand was growing and with it the lack of physical space to perform these therapies. That is why these new rooms are very good news, which will allow us to provide more neighbors with the rehabilitation they deserve.”

Germán Codina, Mayor of Puente Alto

About the Author

  • Margot Cunningham

    Margot Cunningham serves as CAF America’s Officer of Marketing and Communications. Her responsibilities include planning, creating, and implementing marketing and communications strategies, with a focus on building awareness of our mission and engaging prospects and donors with long-form content and event opportunities.

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