Working in solidarity

Subir al Sur is an NGO that recently combined with Fundación SES becoming a department under a larger NGO. Subir al Sur’s mission is to advocate for youth, promote intercultural cooperation, and work in solidarity with grassroots organizations. Subir al Sur, to me, is a beautiful organization and I am so thankful to work with them. My coworkers do amazing and impactful work that is essential to the sustainability of at-risk communities yet they are incredibly humble and caring.

I came to Argentina with hopes of learning how to advocate for vulnerable communities internationally and I was not disappointed. Every day in Buenos Aires I grow as a person but every day at work I learn something new. My very first day at work my boss shared with me a beautiful and powerful statement, “No eres nada y no lograrás nada si crees que estás aquí para ayudarnos, para salvarnos. Pero si estás aquí en solidaridad, si estás aquí porque entiendes que nuestra lucha es tu lucha, entonces podemos cambiar el mundo” (You are nothing and you will accomplish nothing if you believe you are here to help us, to save us. But if you are here in solidarity, if you are here because you understand that our struggle is your struggle, well then we can change the world). This set the tone for a journey that I knew I would come out of as a different, better person.

I strongly believe in her words. When I visit the grassroots organizations that Subir al Sur collaborates with I know I witness the real power of solidarity and the magnitude of what we can accomplish when we work with a mindset of solidarity and not a mindset of “I am here to save/help these people”. I have learned from the jardines communitarios (community gardens) and community kitchens the true meaning of people power. The directors have shared with me the story of how these projects were created and how they’re sustained by the very community who survives because of their existence. The directors tell me that these organization started when members of the community became fed up with watching children in their neighborhoods starve or play on the streets because they had nowhere safe to play. The members of the community came together and pooled their resources to protect their children. While some had some spare pesos to give & others only had their hands to offer yet they still made it work.

At my work, we have this saying “whenever you go somewhere you should bring your ears and your hands. Your ears to listen to the struggles of the people & your hands to offer your help however they may need it.” This is a saying I hope to remember for the rest of my life. A saying that, if I live by it, I know I will help change the world.

I use to believe change happened from above. It’s why I always wanted to be a lawyer to incite systematic change from a legal position. Argentina taught me that real change happens from the ground up. It happens when neighbors come together to create and sustain a community kitchen in efforts to keep their children from going hungry. It happens when a family of daughters offers their home as a classroom for children who live on the streets. Change doesn’t happen when Congress passes a new law it happens when community members come together in solidarity.

By Kimberly Jessica Ramirez Gonzalez

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