Macarena Currin

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2003
FundaciĆ³n Rodelillo


This profile was prepared when Macarena Currin was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Deep poverty is much more than an economic problem. The poorest people face innumerable, compounding challenges, especially in countries like Chile where millions of people slip through the minimal social safety nets that exist. Macarena has built a poverty-alleviation program that addresses all the keystones of prosperous (or poor) living–employment, housing, education, physical health, mental health, family dynamics, community social networks, and others. The strength of Macarena's model is not only in its holistic nature, but also in its use of the family unit as the focus of intervention. Macarena's Rodelillo Foundation works with extremely poor and at-risk families, coaching them through a comprehensive two-year rehabilitation period after which families are expected to have improved their situations–and enmeshed themselves in the proper support networks–so that they may embark on a healthy, happy, and sustainable path. The family-centered program is in sharp contrast to most poverty-alleviation schemes in that it eschews paternalism. The program demands dedication and agency on the part of participating families, and in return allows families to expect quality services commensurate with their commitment and hard work. Periodic assessments of families' progress are rigorous and results oriented, in contrast to prevailing "soft" poverty-alleviation methods.
Macarena's model is more effective than the prevailing poverty alleviation programs of both the Chilean government and other citizen sector organizations. It is also less expensive–about three-quarters the per person annual cost of the main government initiatives. It is no surprise, therefore, that Chilean government agencies have begun to reshape their programs in the Rodelillo image. Macarena's Rodelillo model is broadly applicable wherever societies wish to cost-effectively reverse the vicious circle of poverty and its attendant problems for their poorest citizens.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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