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)
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.
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.
We were overwhelmed by the maturity and calmness with which
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.
…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