Solidarity And Ecology: Parafina Social Project - Parafina

Solidarity And Ecology: Parafina Social Project

In 2014, when we started the development of the idea of creating a brand from scratch, we were very clear that all our products had to be ecological and donate part of the sales to a social purpose.

We started looking for a social project in which the people involved were close, serious, long-term oriented and who wanted to collaborate with Parafina. Finally, we chose the school scholarship project in Paraguay and we are very proud to continue working side by side with this social project 6 years later.

I began the search for a social project to donate part of the sale of glasses with the aim of finding a sustainable project over time, that had a proven track record and that was close enough to have direct contact with them. With these characteristics we discarded all large NGOs as it would be very difficult to maintain direct and continuous contact. We were evaluating projects related to the world of optics, as we sell recycled sunglasses and reading glasses, but we did not find any. We looked for projects related to education in Spain and we did not like any of them either. Initially we wanted it to be in Spain because of its proximity, but finally we decided that it was more important to choose a project that inspired us instead of focusing on the geographical proximity. 

Since 2009, I have been collaborating with a social project in Paraguay that my cousin Tatiana started in 2006. The project is developed in a small school of the LaSalle Brothers in the outskirts of Asuncion (Paraguay). The school is located in the nort of Asuncion in the neighborhood of Fatima. It is a flood-prone area where there are few resources and high poverty rates. Most of the houses are precarious, built on public land (land without a property title) on the flood-prone banks of the Paraguay River as it passes through Asunción. The vast majority of the families in the neighborhood have a very poor economic situation, which does not allow them to devote many resources to their children’s education. The level of education in Paraguay is a big problem since in world rankings such as PISA-D it is in the second to last place in America, only behind Haiti.

During her volunteering at the school, my cousin started with the help of family and friends to give scholarships to children from the neediest families. In the neighborhood there are many families in total poverty levels (23.5% of the Paraguayan population in 2019 subsisted on less than 80 EUR per month). In addition, these families often have many children. This situation leads that in the case of being able to educate any of their children, they can only do it with the oldest or the two oldest ones. Additionally, the floods provoked by Paraguay River and the lack of income due to the closure of the nearby landfills – where garbage was sorted in 2014-15 when we started selling Parafina glasses – made it very necessary to collaborate with this project.

I told my partners about the project and we decided it was perfect. Education is a great long term bet for the development of a society, we could promote Parafina’s values such as recycling or ecology. I had direct contact with the project, there was a lot of need for help and the school managers were happy to collaborate with everything we needed.

The scholarships of our social project include the payment of the annual tuition, monthly fees and the necessary supplies during the year (books, notebooks…). LaSalle’s school in Fatima is a state-subsidized school. In Paraguay, education is supposed to be free, but there are not enough places in public schools for all the children, so families have to look for options such as charter schools. In charter schools, the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) finances the teachers’ salaries, but does not cover any other expenses of the school. The school has to charge the students for all the administrative expenses, auxiliary staff (cleaning, security…), school material and other expenses for a correct functioning. As I have explained, the families of the neighborhood do not have sufficient resources to pay for these expenses for the education of their children (around 90 euros per year).

The sales of PARAFINA glasses during 2015 allowed us to start the project with 16 scholarship children. It was a great joy to be able to collaborate with such a beautiful project and support the education of these children. With this contribution we fulfilled one of the main objectives we set ourselves in the development of PARAFINA as a brand: that 5% of the net sales of PARAFINA glasses would contribute to a social purpose. I would like to personally thank all the teachers, the school’s board of directors and especially Professor Ninfa and Brother Arsenio for their support and help in the development of the Parafina Social Project. It is wonderful to see the children happy at the school and to think that they will have a better future. …. Their smile in this video is worth more than a thousand words. Thanks also to all of you who buy Parafina glasses because your purchases are the basis for the development of this project.