In Chile, an eco-education project started by teens

The story of Javier, a young man from Chile, starts with getting interested in the environment, an unexpected proposal and the beginning of an ecological commitment that today has reached vast proportions.

I have always loved nature and had a special relationship with it. In 2017, I became aware of the serious damage that humanity is causing to the planet.
“But what can a simple teenager do to change the reality of the planet?” I used to say to myself.
One day, however, my aunt invited me to participate in a sustainable development forum at the headquarters of Cepal (the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean). I was surprised, but she encouraged me, saying how teenagers should take on important decisions and make their voices heard for our future.
I decided to participate and got other classmates who were interested in social and environmental issues involved, with the help of the school.

During the forum we were able to learn about Social Development Goals (SDS) and the actions that are being carried out in order to achieve them in some Latin American and Caribbean countries. We were also able to express our thoughts in front of the authorities present.

Among the initiatives, we were impressed by “Concausa”, which is part of the America Solidale NGO. It works specifically to put an end to child poverty and trains adolescents to be true change agents.

Together with two partners, we decided to propose a project at our school linked to Concausa, but we were not successful. After some time, given our interest in these issues, Concausa decided to set up a workshop in our school called “Actuators” to help us better develop our project.

In classes we saw a lot of rubbish thrown on the floor, so we set out to encourage better waste management and recycling to create a pro-environmental culture. The “Eco-Education” project began. The waste was mainly tetrapacks, so we re-used them to create “eco-containers” where we could sort the waste and reuse it to make eco-blocks.

Thanks to our work, many of our classmates have learned how to recycle. They have now even convinced their parents to do this in their homes.

In the meantime, together with boys from the Focolare unit that I am a part of, we introduced workshops and in-depth analysis of environmental issues during our regular meetings.

After a year of work with our “eco-education” project, we were chosen to represent Chile in a Concausa Continental Camp that takes place each year in our country. Project teams from all over the continent participate.

I went along as well, and it was an unforgettable experience. I met people from many countries, each with their different culture. Getting to know each other made us feel the same. We were and are a family, a generation fighting for a more united and supportive future.

On the last day we were invited to give a speech to officials from America Solidale, Unicef and Cepal about the different realities we have in our countries, and how we are doing our part to defend the environment.

Now we continue to work together with camp participants through video calls. This is how we conceived the “1000 Actions for Change” project, which aims to spur ecological actions and mitigate the climate crisis. To achieve this, I was chosen to represent my country.

Here is Javier’s testimony during the launch of the Pathway 2020–2021 “Dare to Care” campaign.

Edited by Anna Lisa Innocenti

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