Raúl LuceroAshoka Fellow
Raúl Lucero is a social entrepreneur who has been working with differently abled people for more than 20 years to develop their skills and help them become socially independent. The founder of the organisation La Asociación Civil Andar, he was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
Lucero was born into a poor working-class family, and he helped bring up his five siblings because of his father’s frequent work-related absences from home. To earn money, starting from the age of seven, he gave pony rides on the weekends and scoured garbage dumps for cables to sell. Moving often because of his father’s work, the family lived in four different parts of Argentina, and Lucero felt estranged from his classmates in Buenos Aires because of his accent and customs.
Twenty years ago, Lucero began working with differently abled young people in Moreno—a highly disadvantaged district of 600,000 people in greater Buenos Aires. He was a newly qualified physical education teacher at a time when local sports programmes and sports facilities were very popular, but the concept of working with people with disabilities through sport or other activities was uncommon.
On his way to work every day, Lucero passed a protected workshop for the differently abled and was shocked by the passivity and boredom of the young people he saw. He observed that they performed dull, repetitive jobs in the morning and were required to take a siesta in the afternoon. On an impulse, he invited them to play sports—an invitation that changed his life. After his twice-weekly sessions at the local sports field became an anticipated event, Lucero knew he had to do more. With his contagious enthusiasm, he began lobbying the municipality to allow him to operate a summer school. He galvanised other teachers who had never had contact with differently abled students.
Within six months, Lucero was ready to begin his work. He sent five buses to the most deprived neighbourhoods of Moreno to gather participants, and he mobilised volunteers and social workers to visit homes to reach out to the entire community. This was the beginning of Andar and the work he continues today.