Stepping up to Give Back. Tectonica Reaches Out to Local NGO and Launches New NationBuilder Site
November 23, 2015
Natividad Obeso was once an entrepreneurial distributor for a brewery in Peru, a single mother working to support her 4 kids and 6 brothers. This all changed when she was first extorted by a leftist guerrilla movement and then accused by the government of helping terrorist groups.
The Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates that between 69,280 persons were killed in the internal conflict in Peru and both sides of the civil war committed systematic human rights atrocities.
Ms. Obeso had no choice but to abandon her life and family in Peru and escape to Argentina. The real struggle began when she arrived in a country with archaic immigration laws, leftover from the military dictatorship. But this only made her more determined to do something about it. After years of struggling in a country where she knew nobody and nobody wanted to know her, she decided to speak up and founded AMUMRA, an NGO that fights for women immigrant rights in Argentina.
20 years later and following major victories in its legal battles and in the lives of individuals, Natividad continues to lead AMUMRA’s mission to broaden the rights of refugee women and give direct support and advice to refugee/immigrant women and their children. While the numbers of the women involved have continued to grow and the organization has seen many legislative successes - its organizing infrastructure continues to be based on informal contact.
AMUMRA, still today an all-volunteer force, managing its small army of activists on excel spreadsheets and lives on a shoestring budget - like many of the worthy organizations out there today. The investment needed to afford staff, a website, or even better - a community organizing platform like NationBuilder - is quite often beyond the reach of smaller organizations - especially those in countries like Argentina. Tectonica has seen over the years many worthy causes without the resources that do not have the funds to afford these efforts which would truly jumpstart their growth. Its for this reason we decided this year to set-up our project Accion Local.
During the last three years, we’ve come across hundreds of amazing NGOs doing truly inspirational work but most have little or no digital structure to help them to do it.
When we launched Tectonica we had a vision to bring about a positive change in the world. It’s why we only take on progressive projects that we truly believe in. During the last three years, we’ve come across hundreds of amazing NGOs doing truly inspirational work but most have little or no digital structure to help them to do it.
We wanted to help a local NGO have the needs but not the resources to afford efforts like the projects we work on. So we decided to hold a competition where local NGOs could apply for a 48-hour digital makeover. A sort of progressive charity version of a hackathon. We presented the idea to the team at Tectonica and we were met with a wave of enthusiasm. We love the opportunity to work with people all over the world from Palestine to Scotland to California. But the chance to work in the community which we live and love was something we were all very excited for.
We saw the competition as a great opportunity to introduce to Latin America the incredible community organizing power that NationBuilder’s toolbox of functionalities provide. For whatever reason - NationBuilder - which is truly the cutting edge in community organizing and political software has not picked up much here in South America - despite the continent's enormous and pioneering history in community and grassroots organizing.
We went about setting up a process to decide who would be the organization we would work with. Our amazing intern Khadija Hassanali drafted the language for a landing page, criteria and simple application for organizations and then we went about spreading the word through local charity networks.
Among the many application we received one stood out from the crowd: AMUMRA.
We approached NationBuilder about co-sponsoring the event and right from the get-go they agreed to offer free training and the first year of their service for free.
Upon closure of the application period the team members who participated in Accion Local got together and read through the applications. Among the many application we received one stood out from the crowd: AMUMRA.
When we met with Natividad and explained the idea and expectations of Accion Local, she listened attentively to the possibilities that NationBuilder could bring their community organizing online. She told us, “this sounds great but we have no money to do this.” When we explained that Tectonica would build the site for free and NationBuilder would provide training and a free year of service, she began to tear up.
The potential for NationBuilder to revolutionize their organizational efforts is huge, both in terms of coordinating people for lobbying government for better laws and for ongoing services. NationBuilder has the power to coordinate ongoing contact with the women the organization works with, assigning people by geographic or other elements to leaders, organizing phone banking, and outreach efforts for those without phones. In addition the site has the potential to attract new potential donors online and show the group as a serious organization to foundations considering grants.
The team at Tectonica was deeply inspired to create something amazing for AMUMRA. But we only had 48 hours to do so. A website build from scratch - with the full process usually taking six to eight weeks minimum for us. To pull it off would take incredible speed, coordination, and skill.
We were lucky to have the entire process for the event documented throughout the two days by the amazing Marino Morduchowicz - who himself performed a juggling act of filming and editing throughout the event in order to launch the videos as we worked. He worked alongside intern Shreya Nathan to provide subtitles in both Spanish and English - that viewers in either language can follow along the entire process and learn about the work we do.
For Tectonica, this was an extremely moving experience. It touched each one of us in a truly powerful way. We were honored by the experience of working alongside these women and with the passion and talent of the team at Tectonica.
You can see all of the video updates throughout the emotional and challenging days of our work on our Accion Local page. You can also see the final website we created here. Check out the before and after look of the site
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