Elifor Carvajal

National Deputy Director SOS Children's Villages in Chile

My decision is SOS Children’s Villages

This story takes place in one of the children’s villages in my country.

My position as Deputy National Director makes me responsible for six SOS Children’s Villages, grouped by geographical nearness. One of these villages started to have internal problems and management issues, which were related to its director. When I focused my attention on this particular village, I found work environment problems between the mothers, professionals and the director. Bad decisions had been taken, the director having imposed his particular management style, based on lies and deceits.

Because of all these problems and as the person in charge for this programme, I took the decision to dismiss him from his position and from the organisation. This decision generated a polarization among co-workers and the mothers and aunts. There was a minority group supporting the dismissed director and a majority one against his administration.

The director, together with a group of SOS mother and aunts, started to spread all around the village a series of lies and malicious comments about my work and management as Deputy Director. To this end, a group of mothers supporting the former director manipulated some children from the village’s families. Among the circulating rumours, a girl from the village commented at school that she and other girls from the village had been sexually abused by me. This defamation expanded like a snowball until it reached the National Office and the National Director’s ears, who, complying with the protocol, decided to suspend me from my position and start an investigation conducted by external professionals in order to determine the veracity of the girl’s story.

When I heard this accusation, my world fell apart. My family and I suffered so much, and personally, I questioned myself on the possibility of leaving the organisation, since an accusation like this in my country marks your life forever. The investigation lasted about a month, and during all this time I kept away from my position and duties. Concurrently, the situation in the village was getting worse and after the director’s dismissal, five SOS mothers quit their positions in solidarity and support to the former director.

The result of the investigation showed my absolute innocence, since the girls acknowledged that they did it at the request of one of the SOS mothers.

This was one of the most difficult moments I have gone through, both in my professional and personal life, which is why I thought about leaving SOS Children’s Villages. At this moment, my wife and daughter played a very important role, reminding me that my work was an important part of my life and my personal values, and unlike those mothers who decided to leave the organisation to support the former director, my choice should be for the children, because I love my work and it makes me feel whole.

After the investigation’s results were announced, I was allowed to return to my position and duties. I must acknowledge all the unwavering support I received from my colleagues and the organisation’s co-workers.

In order to face the problems in the village, we developed a crisis plan and I assumed, once again, the responsibility for the village. We developed shifts for taking care of the children, so as to cover for the mothers who had quit. Mothers from other villages came to support the work and additionally, co-workers from all around the country came to provide their assistance.

This story happened about four years ago. At present, I continue being the person in charge of this village, in addition to five more. I continue being responsible for this village because of my commitment and loyalty to the SOS mothers, aunts and co-workers who decided to stay and whose main interest are the children, above their personal concerns. For all this, my decision is SOS Children’s Villages.

Elifor Carvajal

joined SOS CV in Chile in March 1996. He is currently the National Deputy Director of SOS Children’s Villages Chile.

He started as a co-worker in a Family Strengthening Project in the city of Antofagasta, in the north of Chile. Later on he became part of the education team at the national office from where he assumed his current position in 2006.

His tasks are: supporting the director in the development of programmes, conducting monitoring visits and onsite support.

Elifor’s professional background: He is an education psychologist. He is certified in management for non-profit organisations and coaching. These contribute a lot to his own professional development and work performance.

His family: He is the second of four children. He is married to Jessica Pizarro, a teacher in physical education by profession. Their daughter Antonia is 13 years old and is currently in her eighth year of primary school. She also loves sports and dancing.

Leisure time: He enjoys spending time with his family, inviting friends over to barbeque and watching football. Among his favourite hobbies are Chilean and Latin American folklore.

His contributions to the development of humanity in society he describes as follows: “I feel privileged to participate in the redefinition of the lives of each of the children who are part of the SOS family. Through my work, I have got the awareness that there is much to be done in Chile, especially in areas of child and adolescent protection”.