Young People from María Elena Have a New “Teen-Friendly Space”
Health clinic professionals, local residents and members of SQM’s volunteer corps turned a small landfill into a place for local teens to receive specialized support in areas related to their personal development.
One of the people who cut the colorful ribbon on the new “Teen-Friendly Space” was José Chamaca, a María Elena youth leader and member of the Teen Advisory Council. He and other young people like him will benefit from this new space, which was renovated and outfitted to provide them with professional services in areas such as sexual health, nutrition and healthcare in a pleasant and confidential environment.
“It is really nice that we will have a space where we can talk about what we are experiencing and where they teach us to grow into better people in a place that is just for us. It’s great. I think that everything that is happening here is positive for all of us,” José remarked.
The restoration of the site is the result of a collaborative effort on the part of the staff of the clinic that runs the “Teen-Friendly Space” program, María Elena residents and an enthusiastic group of SQM employees from the mining company’s volunteer corps, “Lend a Hand to Your Community.”
SQM’s Director of Communications, Sustainability and Public Affairs, Pablo Pisani, explained, “We are very proud of this altruistic work that was achieved by the team of SQM volunteers, the community and clinic staff. This initiative undoubtedly fosters the personal development of the young people who will now have a place in which to learn, talk, reflect and engage in dialogue. We are very happy to be doing our part, particularly given that the area had become a landfill.”
The volunteers who participated in the intervention built a path that connects the clinic to the container that will be used as an office, which was donated by SQM. They also created green areas and painted the new spaces. Prior to undertaking those efforts, they cleaned and organized the property, eliminating the small landfill.
SQM plant operator Raúl Barraza, a member of the volunteer group that participated in the recovery of the space, remarked, “There used to be a lack of opportunities for young people from the municipality. They had no place to let off steam. Today that is possible thanks to a community effort. I’m happy because this type of initiative allows us to reach more residents and to contribute to the municipality’s development.”
Antofagasta Regional Health Secretary Rossana Díaz also participated in the inauguration ceremony and said that she is very proud of the initiative. “It is beautiful to see joint efforts by a private company, government officials and the community. These are the kinds of initiatives that the country needs because they let young people grow up with a different, more inclusive outlook that is built by all stakeholders.”
Díaz also thanked the team of SQM volunteers and congratulated them for understanding the community’s needs. She also recognized the work that the María Elena Clinic does and the fact that it is constantly seeking out opportunities to improve the services that it provides to the community.