Andrés Aguilar Larrondo

Ashoka Fellow
Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Fellow Since 2008


This profile was prepared when Andrés Aguilar Larrondo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Andrés is the founder and president of Risaterapia A.C. (literally meaning “laughter therapy” in Spanish), a citizen organization (CO) established in May 2002. The innovative idea driving Risaterapia is the construction of dynamic interpersonal relationships based on the principles of volunteerism and what Andrés calls “cheerful cooperation” with a special emphasis on the places where happiness is most lacking—hospitals, nursing homes, marginalized communities, and disaster areas and post-conflict zones. Risaterapia’s corps of volunteer Médicos de la Risa (laughter doctors) undergoes extensive training in improvisation and communications skills before visiting sites to engage vulnerable populations. Risaterapia volunteers are also encouraged to apply what they have learned to their daily lives and personal relationships. Unlike many volunteer organizations that focus heavily on the delivery of services, Risaterapia operates on the principle that their volunteers can be agents of social and cultural change. Andrés’s vision is to foment a grassroots movement of volunteerism throughout Mexico—and eventually other countries—based on human interactions and their multiplicative effect on people’s outlook and self-esteem. To this end, he and his Mexico City-based Risaterapia team have developed a low-cost replication model whereby interested groups in other Mexican cities are granted significant autonomy to start their own Risaterapia chapters. Risaterapia has ballooned in size in the five years since it was founded; encompassing 1,200 volunteers in nineteen cities throughout the country.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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