Education in Colombia´s coffee region

Approaching Chinchiná

After the incessant rain on Monday, our trip to Colombia’s lush coffee region was a welcome change. Blue sky, butterflies in yellow, blue and red, winding roads and stunning views led us to the city of Manizales, and then the small town of Chinchiná, where our partner Asociacion Mundos Hermanos strives to keep children in school, and get those who have left at an early age to go back.

Despite Chinchiná’s beauty and warmth, the region is extremely poor and unemployment is rife. Many of the families have very low levels of education, and are involved in casual labour on the coffee plantations. This, alongside the lack of opportunities for employment, and low value placed on education within many families means that a lot of children leave school before they even become teenagers. Without the right support and guidance, these children face a future of poverty, violence, abuse, drug involvement and hardship – which is where the project really becomes a lifeline.

Asociacion Mundos Hermanos (AMH)

AMH provides safety, education and vocational training to vulnerable children and young people in Chinchiná, aged 7-18.

The emphasis is on enjoyment as well as learning so that children will stay in education for as long as possible.  The children we met love using the computers, and from what we could see were pretty speedy typists. The emphasis on IT not only develops a skill, but helps the children to concentrate, develop their creative side and desire to move forwards.

Kite flying

Kite flying in Colombia´s coffee region

The older children aged 11-18, can be a lot more difficult to engage. Many of them have already left school, to find work, be it on the coffee plantations or to, sadly, pursue a life or crime.

For many of these young children it is sometimes difficult to see the benefit of studying, when stealing a mobile phone or wallet will make them a lot more money. AMH works hard to get these children and young people back to school, drawing on each child´s own interests and skills.
Learning for life
A personal development plan, built with AMH’s support, offers the children and young people a chance to chose a skill and really develop it. AMH provides vocational training in areas such as baking, woodwork, music and sport. The vocational training is not only an opportunity to learn skills for the future, but also to learn about perseverance, tolerance of others and self discipline. The children and young people at AMH learn how to make mistakes and then rectify them, how to win and lose, and how to deal with frustration and feelings of aggression.

We were overwhelmed by the maturity and calmness with which

AHM - front door

the children spoke to us as they explained their work with wood carving. The woodwork we observed was really impressive and beautiful, and the children were so obvuiously proud of what they had achieved. Having met these children face to face, it is painful to think what they might (or might not) be doing without the great support of AMH.

And now…

…we are off to visit the Formemos Foundation, a project working with children and families in Colombia´s beautiful countryside. We have no doubt that it will be yet another exciting trip and insight into how COTA´s work is changing lives in Colombia. We look forward to updating you later today.

Bye for now!
Hannah and Emily

This entry was posted in Children Change Colombia Team News, Projects & Field Office Reports and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Education in Colombia´s coffee region

  1. Fantastic. Its a lovely area which I recall from my brief travels there. You are doing such a good job and all the very best to you and the people whose lives you are touching. Ruth

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