When visiting one of their customers in Chile, Marine & Protective Coatings Sales Manager, Juarez Machado mentioned the AkzoNobel Community Program at the end of his meeting. This led to a visit to Los Laureles, a home for adolescents and young children who have been placed there through legal intervention and had to be separated from their parents because of mistreatment or abuse.
Los Laureles is one of the 47 centers in Chile belonging to the Coanil Foundation, a non-profit organization that takes care and educates children, youngsters and adults with intellectual disabilities to provide them with the required tools to be able to integrate into society. The main objective is to maximize the potential of each individual living at one of the centers improving their quality of life and self esteem.
At those units, like Los Laureles, rehabilitation and training is provided to children who have been infringed on their rights. Los Laureles is located in the commune of Floresta and houses 60 adolescents and young children, often with mental disabilities, who have been placed outside their homes because of various reasons, like a serious violation of rights, primarily by family neglect, severe mistreatment, abuse, etc. They come from underprivileged families who live in an area of high risk with little chance to be part of society on an equal basis. The home is run like a boarding school by specialized professionals who aim to develop the children’s skills and competencies to a level that they can return to live with their families or live independently, taking their interests and personal characteristics into account.
82% of the home’s costs are financed by the government through the national service for minors (Sename). The remaining 18% comes from company donations, national collection drives and other sources. These funds cover the costs for food, medical care and medicines, education, human resources and physical therapy. Unfortunately there are insufficient resources to maintain the infrastructure and recreational areas for the users.
Juarez was impressed with what he had seen at the home and when he got back to the office he invited his colleagues in the sales team to discuss the possibilities to help Los Laureles. After having heard about his experiences, the team had become very enthusiastic and also paid a visit to the home. Support from the Community Program was granted to give the home a thorough make-over. 12 colleagues from Marine & Protective Coatings, including some family members, spent various weekends painting the 8 buildings and rooms for training and support. Also they planted flowers and vegetables for the residents’ own consumption It was hard work but the result was very rewarding, as one of them said: ‘It was a beautiful experience for all of us, to spend our weekends with such kind and friendly kids was an amazing and unforgettable lesson of life.’