Aldana Di Costanzo
Aldana fundó Aiken con el fin de generar un cambio cultural, y brindar tanto a niños como a adultos herramientas para transitar la muerte de un ser querido, entender la muerte como parte de la vida, y como una situación que puede servir para generar una nueva realidad. Hoy, Aiken es la única organización social del país que trabaja en esta temática, para lo cual ha desarrollado especialmente herramientas y metodologías.
Aiken busca crear un entorno más saludable y empático para los niños y adolescentes que se encuentran atravesando esta difícil situación. A través de la organización, Aldana ha desarrollado una nueva perspectiva acerca de cómo abordar el tema de la muerte, y está impulsando una cultura en donde el tema está presente en las conversaciones del día a día.
Aiken tiene diversas líneas de trabajo: espacios individuales y grupales para niños, adolescentes y los adultos a cargo, orientación telefónica, talleres, asesoramientos y capacitaciones. Las intervenciones con los niños están basadas en el juego y el arte. En las instituciones educativas capacitan a los docentes para que puedan generar un entorno de empatía y contención cuando sucede alguna situación de duelo, alentando a los estudiantes para que puedan crear un espacio donde todos puedan expresar sus sentimientos, a medida que interiorizan y entienden el concepto de la muerte y el duelo.
Aldana works on several levels, one of them is at the level of the individual and family, the median through which she works with them is based on play and art in the form of peer to peer therapy. In schools, she is training teachers so that they can create an empathetic environment for the child grieving process where there are people children can go to, to express their feelings.
Aldana works in various levels: in the individual and family level, with therapies based on playing and arts, and peer to peer processes. In schools they are training teachers to be able to create empathy in class when there are children facing grief. She enables their classmates to participate in this situation by creating a separate space for the other children in the class to express their feelings as they understand death and grief. This is due to the fact that their own questions or emotional reactions can deepen the pain the child is already facing through their loss.
Aldana lived through several episodes of grief as a child, and these experiences drove her to create Aiken. Through the organization she aims to bring about a cultural shift, giving both children and adults the tools to cope with the death of a family member as an experience that is part of life, and one which can serve to bring it new meaning.
This is what Daniel, 15, experienced when he came to Aiken after losing his parents. His aunt and uncle brought him to the organization because he was feeling very sad. He had lost interest in everything, and they didn’t know how to be there for him in his grief. At Aiken, Daniel was able to recapture his memories of his parents and talk about them, remembering family anecdotes and the things they took pleasure in. He reconnected to his mother’s love of orchids, and decided to take part in a gardening project which, soon afterwards, would become his profession. Through his grieving process, Daniel was able to find new meaning in his pain and to make sense of what had happened to him. Daniel’s story, like those of many of the young people who have passed through Aiken, reaffirms the importance of coming to terms with death in order to live fully.
Aldana is now bringing the subject of death and how to approach it to a wider, strategically selected audience (focusing particularly on schools and the media) with the capacity to help bring this issue into the public arena both quickly and organically.