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NGO Voluntario Global Introduces Student-Run Cooperative to Empower the Youth of Argentina
The creation of The Laundry Project, or Su Lavanderia, presents an opportunity for underprivileged youth to finance higher education with valuable work experience.
Since Voluntario Global began over six years ago, the organization has prioritized the training and education of Argentine youth to help them prepare and gain experience for the future. In line with this approach, Voluntario Global has established the Laundry Project, or “Su Lavanderia,”
The majority come from impoverished families in Villa Fátima (Barrio de Soldati), Buenos Aires, Argentina. In poor neighborhoods such as Villa Fátima, only 10% of young people continue to develop their educations after secondary school. Instead of studying, many are obligated to support their families by working low-skilled jobs that require more than nine hours of labor per day. The Laundry Project allows for a new and hopeful transition into adulthood where the students can remain in high school and advance to universities with their laundry wages financing their studies.
Carlos, a 24-year-old from Villa Soldati, picks up and delivers the laundry to clients. For eight hours a day and five days a week he drives through the crowded, humid streets of San Telmo on a motorbike. It is grueling work, however Carlos reflects, “It gives you a lot of possibilities. It helps you integrate and learn how having a job is. It gives you the possibility to continue to do thousands of things.''
In the Laundry Project, the students pick up, wash, dry, iron and deliver sheets for hostels. High school student Frederico explains that the Project allows him to study and to secure a better life after school: “If you don’t have the studies, you cannot work in any place. With this education, I will be able to find work. Even when I am here, I can take my books and study when I have a break.”
The team currently has the opportunity to expand its business to a further five hostels. Like the youth themselves, the Laundry Project has overcome adversity to continue growing. For now, however, the infrastructure has met maximum capacity for production. The Project urgently needs new machinery so that more disadvantaged youth who wish to finance their education and future can do so in a secure, uplifting environment.
As a brainchild of Voluntario Global, the Laundry Project relies entirely on the generosity of donors and volunteers for development and expansion.