COTA’s Patron and Royal Ballet Star, Fernando Montaño, visited some of our project partners on a recent trip to Colombia. Here he tells us about his experiences at the Albergue Infantil Mama Yolanda (AIMY) in Bogota and Paz y Bien in Aguablanca, Cali.
“This was my first time visiting our partners and my first trip back home to Colombia in three years, so it was very emotional. At AIMY I was surprised to see how all the children were so full of positive energy, despite the traumas many of them have experienced. You can see how the project helps to build their confidence. They were all so articulate, and as a ballet dancer, I was also impressed by their discipline – their rooms were more organised than mine!
I was shocked by the problem of invisible borders – the invisible lines dominated by different gang groups. This is a major issue facing the children in Aguablanca, where COTA’s partner Paz y Bien works. Some told me that they don’t even go to school, because they are too scared to risk their lives by crossing the borders.
The children and young people at Paz y Bien were particularly curious to hear about my journey, from growing up in Aguablanca to being a dancer at the Royal Ballet. I encouraged them to follow their own dreams. I told them that there will always be obstacles along the way, but if you persevere with discipline, dedication and determination, you can reach your dreams.
During my visit, I was able to see the impact of COTA’s support on the day to day lives of the children. They filled me with their positive energy, and it was great to know that in some way my support of COTA’s work is having a positive effect on their lives.
Fernando will be organising a fundraising gala for COTA on June 8th – check our website for details!