During the COVID pandemic in 2021, The Workshop became aware of charitable educational project, “Abre una puerta al futuro” (open a door to the future), led by the Universidad de Málaga and Asociación Chavorrillos.
There was a concern that students from the “Los Asperones” neighbourhood were going to press pause on their classes due to the digital divide that these students had in comparison with more privileged students. They didn’t have the resources to keep studying from home when their school closed. We were able to help by donating 25 PCs and monitor screens for the use of C.E.I.P. María de la O students.
Our donation was only a small part of a joint effort including the donation of electronic devices by private and public organisations, as well as individuals, and the collaboration and support of volunteers, especially a team from the degree course in Computer Engineering at the UMA, who contributed their work and time to set up all the devices donated during the campaign.
That’s not to forget the teachers and social educators who helped provide computer training and resources to all the children and families, the volunteers who installed WiFi connections and the people who provided the students’ houses with a proper space for their computers (this could be as simple yet as unreachable for many as having a basic Ikea table to work on in their homes).
It’s thanks to all of these people that virtual education is a reality today in the Asperones. The work everyone put in to make this happen was monumental but it was effective and we are truly grateful that we were part of the process.
Now the team are working on other projects this year, including the creation of a web application with a very straightforward interface to be used by residents in the Asperones to book their appointments for three or four of the most vital local social services (if there are any volunteers who’d like to help build this web application, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
Recently, Manuel Romero and I had the great honour of visiting the María de la O school in this neighbourhood with our excellent guides Lorena Molina, on behalf of the Chavorrillos Association; Cristóbal Ruiz, coordinator of the project at UMA; and Francisco Velasco (Patxi), director of the María de la O public school. They showed us the hard work they’re doing for these children and all the love they’re putting into school projects to broaden these students’ opportunities for a better future.
They help these children explore their reality in an encouraging way, helping them discover who they are and which people, city, region, country, ethnicity and culture they belong to. In other words, helping them discover that the place they live has nothing to do with their identity, and that they don’t need to be held back in their dreams by where they come from.
Every year more children finish their studies and want to go to the local secondary school, even to university. There’s a wall at the school full of stars that show the achievements of these students. But all the effort put into making this happen would be even more valuable if these children could live in decent homes in a safe and healthy environment. Moving to a better area would be the turning point for many.
As a new year resolution let’s be conscious of how lucky we are for living where we live, and consider how generous we should be with our time and love to those who surround us.
If you’d like to become a volunteer in Málaga or London, you can find out more about volunteering opportunities at The Workshop by emailing email@example.com.