This Saturday will see the inaugural Festival Unión de los Pibes (FUDLP) take place in the Galpón los Milagros, in Palermo Soho.
The festival promises to have a familiar mix of food, music, and fun, but there’s an important extra: it’s being organised by and for local non-profit organisations, with the goal of raising both funds and awareness.
“We want to make it easier to help,” says Will Aquino, director of Club Unión de los Pibes, a non-profit that works with children in impoverished areas in the south of Buenos Aires. Club Unión is organising the festival as a way of generating funding for its own operations and to showcase the work that other local NGOs are doing.
“You look at places like expat groups on Facebook and everyone is saying ‘how can I help?’ or ‘where can I volunteer without paying a fee?’ or ‘where can I donate my clothes?’,” says Aquino. “People just don’t know.”
Alongside Club Unión, seven other NGOs will be represented at FUDLP, a mix of expat-led groups such as Send a Child to School (SACS) and local organisations. Each face the same challenges of finding funding and volunteers, as well as overcoming bureaucratic and legal hurdles.
“We’re trying to make it easier, not only for these groups do keep doing good things, but for the community to help. A lot of people want to, they just don’t know how,” explains Aquino.
He says sometimes has to turn potential volunteers away because of capacity constraints, and hopes that bringing other organisations together in one place will ensure that good intentions are not wasted.
Entry to the festival is $50 or free with a donation of clothing (preferably winter items), school equipment (especially stationary), and non-perishable food. It’s a family-friendly affair – there will be free workshops and activities for the kids – and plenty of food and drink stands, including some expat favourites like El Tejano and La Fabrica del Taco. There will also be a raffle and a pop-up thrift shop, and all donations and proceeds from the day will go straight to the participating NGOs.
Aquino hopes that the event will raise enough funds to allow Club Unión de los Pibes to fund and expand its operations. Founded in 2008, the club encourages dozens of youngsters in Barracas, La Boca, and Constitución to have more self-belief and a sense of community, while supporting their progress through school. Volunteers act as mentors (“like a big brother or sister”) and come from all over the world, but have to commit to at least three months to ensure some level of consistency and stability for the children.
Aquino says he’s seen the benefits of Club Unión’s work first hand. “We’ve brought kids back to school, taught them the importance of it. I’ve seen grades go up, I’ve seen kids get off drugs and the streets are start hanging out with us… We’re seeing these kinds of changes, and we know that we can do more.”
The group currently meets every Saturday in public parks for an afternoon of activities, including art, music, and sport. With the support of events like FUDLP, Club Unión aims to secure their own community space, which will allow them to welcome more children and volunteers, as well as organise more fun and educational field trips.
“This is the biggest event we’ve ever done,” says Aquino, adding that the amount of support they have received from all angles raises hope that this will lead to bigger and better events in the future. “Assuming this goes well, we’ll be able to do this two or four times a year and have more organisations.”
The Festival Unión de los Pibes will run from 12pm to 11pm at Galpón los Milagros on Gorriti 5417. Entry $50 or free with a donation of clothes, school or art equipment, or non-perishable food items. Visit the event’s Facebook page for more information.
Click here for more information about Club Unión de los Pibes.