In the last week of April 2016, representatives of the slum dweller federations of Bolivia and Brazil traveled to Santiago to attend the 10th Anniversary of the “I love my neighborhood” program of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development of Chile. The anniversary was also attended by representatives from Peru and Uruguay. Thanks to the support of Cities Alliance, the federation members were able to attend the international dialogue, strategic partner meetings, community fairs and visit municipal events that were attended by the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelett.
The two women members, Elivania da Silva from Brazil and Lucia Choque from Bolivia were able to share their experience in community organizing and saving. In the process these women enhance their confidence speaking about the issues that matter to the urban poor and feel pride in their capacity to inspiree and teach others. This is leadership training learning-by-doing style.
According to the organizers “[Elivania and Lucia] had an intense but very [relevant] agenda and presentations in the International Dialogue”. Inclusive cities and gender equity were high on the agenda and the contribution of the SDI representatives was shared with country neighbors and their representatives.
Brazilian federation member, Elivania, reflected the event “…was good. There was a presentation of each Project and then there was an exhibition of neighborhoods with urbanization potos. We were able to visit in the Valparaiso neighborhood. They told the story of how the community started there and then we went to meet the architecture faculty”.
Bolivian federation member, Lucia, reflected, “I was surprised by the interest on savings because they did not know the experience of SDI and only now I realize the need to assess our progress but also get involved in all the problems of our settlements. Several authorities want to learn more about our organization and as soon as possible I have to practice email to keep in touch with the participants”.
As SDI explores options for expanding in Latin America, strong women leaders like Elivania and Lucia will be on the frontline.