A 12-coloured Rainbow

Asociacion Arco Iris

In Villa Atuel, 60km from San Rafael – province of Mendoza, Argentina, we met the non-profit association “Arco Iris” (Rainbow), a group of 12 women devoted to solve other people’s problems. They started informally 4 years ago, coordinated by Elina at her fitness classes. Organizing bingos, charity raffles and contributing from their own pockets; they obtained the materials to build a new house with electricity for Mrs Ñata Uribe, of 76 years of age, whose rooftop was literally falling and furthermore, due to lack of electricity, her daughter of 32 years old suffering from diabetes had lost her sight because she couldn’t maintain insulin refrigerated.

Since then, they don’t take a rest; they secured the legal status and they went for more. They got a special wheelchair (ARS 7,900, aprox USD 1,600) for Maxi, and her grateful mother Silvina, ended up joining this group of 12 women who, over “mate” (Argentinean infusion) and with unexpected sincerity, analyze each case presented to them and design the best strategies to obtain what they plan.

In a town of 4,000 inhabitants (including surroundings), is not easy to obtain funds, but they manage to get them. There is a committee of 26 members who contribute ARS 10 (USD 2) per month and they also organize bingos, raffles in the seniors community center or in a school. This is how, slowly and with a lot of effort they obtained an orthopedic leg, eye glasses for kids and covered trip expenses to Mendoza to undergo medical studies for many other people.

Over mate, Elina, Fanny, Mirna, Silvina and Mari, told us what they are preparing for Mother’s day (in Argentina it is celebrated on the third Sunday of October): about 50 cakes beautifully decorated made by them to be included in a raffle along with napkin rings and other prizes to celebrate. They made something similar for Children’s day (in Argentina, on the first Sunday of August), assembling 1,300 packages of donated toys so no kid would be left without a gift.

It is a very joyful group, who doesn’t stop talking and are very straightforward in their way of communicating. They are 12 women and that is not easy, in the meetings they argue and analyze each case, trying to be fair and give priority to the most extreme one. There is only one man who dares to join the group and he is the accountant who supervises the numbers from Mendoza. In his place, Maxi who received the special wheelchair and is with us in the picture, complains if he cannot attend the meetings because he has so much fun in them.

With so little, they do SO much.

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