Elena Duron

Ashoka Fellow
Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Elena Duron was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Elena and her organization, Prevención y Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil SOS (PETISOS-Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor SOS), are addressing and resolving the entrenched problem of child labor through a comprehensive, three-pronged approach. Elena understands that to resolve this problem, she must collaborate with different stakeholders who have direct and indirect involvement in a culture that sanctions and enables forced child labor. First, PETISOS supports the families and children working in landfills or forced into sex trafficking. PETISOS provides programs with deep and enduring impact which gradually enables families and their children to adopt new methods to long-term income-generation that does not require child labor, while also successfully integrating the children back into school.

The second element incorporates other key institutions, such as schools, social services, government agencies, and the courts to support these families and their children to achieve the children’s successful reintegration. Elena has created a methodology which trains and sensitizes teachers to the children’s unique needs. Her curriculum also provides tutoring and mentoring to help them overcome the numerous obstacles they will face. Additional public agencies and even the courts further participate in these efforts. Elena gathers the key social actors together in biweekly meetings so that each participant can understand how his/her roles and responsibilities fit into the larger scenario; by working together, they have a better chance of successfully reintegrating children into society. The members are committed to a co-responsibility that holds them accountable to each other to carry out their respective responsibilities and obtain long-term success.

Inspired by Elena’s results of 95 percent toward lasting school reintegration and a 96 percent graduation rate, other regions and organizations have begun to replicate her program. Elena’s training and scale model is the third key element of her approach. For instance, Telefónica has adopted child labor and PETISOS as their major CSR program, has financed the organization’s expansion and has been the catalyst for training other organizations in the PETISOS model. Elena spearheaded the formation of the Forum for Children’s Rights (FODI), a local and regional network of organizations around the shared mission of reducing and then eradicating forced child labor in the Bariloche region. She also supports a public media and information campaign to raise greater awareness and interest in other regions. These networks support and monitor the responsible agencies and actors; helping them work together to meet their responsibilities to support families and their children to have a childhood, to return to school, and to live lives without forced labor.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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