PMI Chapters in Latin America Turn Project Management Knowledge into Power

 

11 April 2018

Published inPM for Social Good

Group of volunteers in Honduras

Social good programs strengthen communities with results-oriented training for youths, teachers and NGOs

Action through education is robust in Latin America thanks in large part to efforts by PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF) and the PMI Honduras, Panama, Montevideo and Southern Region Peru Chapters. All are spreading the ideals of Project Management for Social Good® by leveraging support for outstanding community initiatives. As a follow up to our attendance at the 2018 PMI® Leadership Institute Meeting – Latin America, PMIEF is proud to share just a few of the many exemplary social good programs that are taking place across Latin America. 

PMI Honduras Potential Chapter:

Do It for Honduras is an impressive project from PMI Honduras Potential Chapter. Alejandra Nazar, president, explains gangs, drugs, and extensive crime are problematic in this country located along a transit for drugs headed to the U.S. 

“We offer alternatives to at-risk kids who think the only way to get out of poverty is by joining a gang,” she says. About 150 youth have participated in one-day-a-week training for five weeks provided by three volunteers at a local university. Using PMIEF’s Project Management Skills for Life materials, students learned PM basics as well as self-esteem, leadership, integrity, and values.

“Students complete projects using resources in their communities,” says Alejandra, stressing that money is not provided. Projects have already generated donations of educational materials for preschools, arranged for road repairs with donated materials and labor, and created a garden for a hungry family. 

A current program is now teaching local companies to use PMIEF materials within their organizations to encourage greater social responsibility. A participating bank, for example, is “translating” PMIEF materials into simpler language appropriate for preschoolers. Bank personnel will then teach PM to the children. Alejandra says this newly simplified program will be shared with PMIEF as a resource for others and adds, “We empower people with knowledge. In a short time, participants learn to do great things for their communities.”

PMI Panama Chapter:

Youth at social risk are the heart of the New Generation Movement, a social good program being delivered by PMI Panama Chapter volunteers. PMIEF Liaison David Diaz Castillo stresses the importance of meaningful after-school experiences. “Instead of going places where [the youth] may be exposed to drugs, prostitution, and gangs, kids instead can go to local cultural centers within their areas,” he says.

When one such center reached out to the chapter, four volunteers immediately created a four-hour youth training program based on Skills for Life, and provided a pre-management basics course for the NPO itself. “The center was thrilled to give students a new skill set, at no cost,” David says. Forty students created projects on paper, ranging from starting a community movie theater to building a soccer facility. The program’s popularity was confirmed by participants asking to return for additional training. “They liked it – a lot,” confirms David. Twenty more students are now registered.

Ongoing chapter efforts also include capacity building to help NGOs and young entrepreneurs improve pre-management skills and methodologies. Additionally, volunteers are gearing up to help local church leaders prepare for 2019 World Youth Day next January. The event will draw over 350,000 participants to Panama, and culminate in a visit from Pope Francis. “This is an extremely complex project spanning government, immigration, housing, and volunteer concerns,” details David. The chapter, utilizing PMIEF no-cost resources, will train church leaders in skills aligned to the project itself, helping them learn to coordinate people, understand specific tasks, and grasp the scope of the project. 

“I feel very connected with PMI, the youth we help, and the organizations fighting to do better,” David reflected. “I love helping people grow their capabilities because often they do not even know their own potentials.” 

PMI Uruguay Chapter:

When municipal government coordinators of Young Leadership Program contacted Montevideo, Uruguay Chapter in hopes of securing an educational session, PMIEF Liaison Karime Ruibal Faral and five volunteers answered the call. They provided PM training for 45 attendees, ages 19 to 23, using Project Management Skills for Life materials. “They were eager to learn,” says Karime of the participants, who planned seven initiatives, including a diversity festival and a tutoring program for hospitalized children. Surveys revealed sky-high satisfaction from attendees and organizers, which Karime shared was “rewarding for the volunteers; they felt great.”  

Another recent effort, Proyectando, offered group workshops to six nonprofit organizations (Ronald McDonald House, Doctors without Borders, Gurises Unidos, Uruguay Diabetes Foundation, Roosevelt School and Idas y Vueltas) to develop their raw ideas into workable projects. The NPOs, guided by 35 volunteers, also presented their ideas to fellow participants in an inspiring exchange of innovation. 

An earlier 2017 Proyectando activity trained 140 teachers at Escuela Integral in PM skills for children. “We tell teachers the objective is to use PM with kids, but we also show them the advantages of PM in their own work as well,” explains Karime. Twelve volunteers used the Project Management Toolkit for Teachers materials in Spanish to provide basic concepts. While the program was a success, “Teachers want education projects as examples, not bridge construction,” Karime says with humor, as she reflects upon their chapter’s lessons learned. “Improvements are under way.”

Karime adds that participants express tremendous gratitude to volunteers for giving up free time for them, but Karime sees the situation differently, “In the end, volunteers get more than they give. It’s a special feeling. And they want to do more.”

PMI Southern Region Peru Chapter: 

Javier Gamero, PMIEF Liaison for the Southern Region Peru Chapter, is convinced of the PMIEF mission that all people can have a better future by applying project management skills in their daily lives. “PMIEF helps communities achieve that goal through great projects,” he says. The chapter is eager to support that work by delivering social good programs in their own community. One such effort trained 30 teachers at a Southern Peruvian school, then helped them replicate the effort with their students. “This was a big challenge, but with help from volunteers we managed to do it using Project Management Skills for Life and The Tower Game available on the PMIEF web page,” he explains.

In 2017, Javier and colleagues learned that PMIEF provides digital badges for students demonstrating proficiency in project management fundamentals. “We undertook a school pilot because we believe young people with skills for the 21st century will change the world,” asserts Javier who, with two volunteers, offered workshops and coordinated online testing and document approvals. 

“Students actively participated; they learned that, even though they all do projects every day, they can ensure success by applying good practices of PM. Those who received the digital badges, including my own son, now want to become leaders in their environment and spread this exciting knowledge,” says Javier. Upcoming projects are already planned, and volunteers stand ready to provide further guidance.

“Knowledge is power – power to change a life, a community, a country, the world,” stresses Javier. “Thanks to PMI and PMIEF we can take understanding of PM to all levels, from children, to youth, to nonprofit organizations, and more. Everyone wants to leave a better planet for the next generation. What better way than through this exciting profession called project management?”