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Digital inclusion

Being a better human

The benefits of volunteering

In Guatemala, volunteering is delivering better futures for local communities – and changing the lives of Capgemini colleagues too.

“In Guatemala, almost 80% of the indigenous population lives in poverty,” says Eduardo Castillo, Capgemini’s Head of Business Services for the Americas Centers. “Many children don’t get the opportunity to study. To help their families earn money, they go and work in the fields from a young age. If they do go to school, the conditions for learning aren’t always good.”

It is against this background that, 10 years ago, we started working with non-profit organization United Way Guatemala.

“Our Building a Better Future program helped build schools and provide kids with better conditions to learn – for example, by creating new computer labs,” says Eduardo. “It was great, because Capgemini colleagues actually helped to build the school themselves, lifting the blocks into place and painting the buildings. Other colleagues helped install the computer labs and ran activities with the children.” In total, Capgemini volunteers helped to build four schools and install four computer labs, benefiting more than 2,500 young people.

In total, Capgemini volunteers helped to build four schools and install four computer labs, benefiting more than 2,500 young people.

The need for change

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, Eduardo knew that the program would need to change.

“We started to think about what else we could do,” he says. “The team at Capgemini still wanted to help, so how could we continue the good work?”

To find the answer, Eduardo and his team looked beyond schools to involve whole communities. Some communities needed clean water supplies, or to help mothers back into the workplace. To reflect this bigger picture, the program evolved to become “Building a Sustainable Future.”

“One way we are helping now is by setting up digital academy programs for students aged 18 and over in the community of Jocotenango,” Eduardo explains.

Around the world, Capgemini’s digital academies provide specialized training in IT skills to help people from disadvantaged communities find sustainable employment and reach financial independence.

“The aim,” says Eduardo, “is to help students gain the technological knowledge that will help them enter and succeed at work.”

Making a difference

According to Eduardo, one important aspect in the success of the projects is “fun.”

“When we volunteer, we also have our day-to-day jobs at Capgemini to do, but we can’t let the communities down. We need to make sure we achieve what we promise. One way we can ensure success is by having fun. If we are teaching children, it must be fun for them – and if we are getting colleagues to give up their time to build a school, they also need to have fun. Fun is necessary so that colleagues volunteer because they want to, not because they feel they have to.”

Fun is one of Capgemini’s core values, and Eduardo says that it can help to spread a positive attitude throughout the team and beyond: “Having fun must be working, because every time we invite colleagues to help out, so many people raise their hands to volunteer. At Capgemini, there is always a willingness to help, and if anyone has a good idea for a new project, we are ready to see if we can bring it to life. Now, I think projects like these have become part of our DNA.”

Continuing the good work

For Eduardo, a personal takeaway from the volunteering projects is that building a sustainable future for all is something that can never be signed off as complete.

“When you achieve a milestone, you can take satisfaction from it, but then you think, ‘what’s next?’ It’s a wheel that never stops turning. We have a responsibility to our communities, and to all the colleagues who have contributed, or still want to contribute, to keep the programs moving forward.”

Ultimately, he believes that commitment to the cause is maintained because what volunteers give is only a fraction of the benefits they receive.

“Some people say that volunteering is about giving without getting anything back in return, but I think you get back much more than you give,” he says.

“Whenever you help somebody else, you feel good. You also gain a sense of accomplishment. When you do that at work, it makes you a better professional, and a better human being. It also shows the next generation how it is possible to make a better future. At Capgemini, it feels like a natural part of what we do.” With that attitude, creating positive outcomes for communities in Guatemala looks set to continue as part of the day-to-day work of our colleagues.

Watch this video to find out more about the volunteering projects that our team in Guatemala has been working on, benefiting more than 2,500 children:

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