Men in the Movement: Vasco Leonardo Elizondo
Lucas Villalba, Guest Contributor
If someone asks for Leonardo Damián Enrique Elizondo, no one will know who that might be; but if they ask for 'Vasco', they’ll soon discover where they can find him. Born and raised in the Don Orione (Claypole) neighborhood, south of Buenos Aires, Argentina, 26-year-old Vasco still lives there with his family.
Vasco became a youth activist to improve the welfare of his community. He works as a health promoter and increases youth engagement in public policy. After studying law at the University of Lomas de Zamora, he decided to get a social work degree at the University of Lanus.
In 2006 Vasco teamed up with other activists to create one of the first youth centers for the promotion of sexual and reproductive health in southern Argentina. They named the organization Message Integration with Responsibility and Art (MIRA). In addition to being a place that provides information and support, MIRA produces plays and films that promote youth sexual and reproductive rights. The organization is a part of the Red de Jóvenes por la Salud (RJS) network of youth organizations and shares its space with groups that work on similar issues.
Vasco coordinates various activities that inform young people about sexual and reproductive health, and he works to bring visibility to the groups in RJS. This has made him a prominent member of the network and a mentor to emerging youth leaders in several communities. In 2008, he represented RJS and Latin American Youth United in Response to HIV/AIDS at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico, and then went to El Salvador to participate in the Mesoamerican Youth Meeting. Vasco's excellent work throughout the region gained him the position of RJS Secretary General, which is responsibility of the network's decision-making.
Vasco works to generate change by relying on peer education and partnerships with policymakers. He has a strong dedication to achieving social change, and his compassion for those in need is the engine behind Vasco’s good deeds.
Lucas Villalba is a youth member of Red de Jóvenes por la Salud in Argentina.