Beacon of Hope: The Education of Colombia

Education of Colombia“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 
― Nelson Mandela

It’s the second largest city in Colombia, rich with a vibrancy that has become a magnet for lovers of music, books, a wealth of historic museums, botanical parks, beautiful gardens and cultural centers. Known as Medellin, the bustling metropolis offers endless promise for the lucky ones. But for those orphaned and abandoned children of the region all those tantalizing possibilities are beyond their reach.

The Colombian government has worked to improve the higher education system in Colombia, but the orphaned and abandoned children need our help if they are going to have any chance of attending college. Without any family structure, no one to care or feed or educate them, these impoverished youth—over 100,000 living in extreme poverty within the City of Medellin alone—fall by the wayside. Most of them succumb to horrific abuse, child prostitution, pornography, sex tourism and more. In 2011, 45,000 children went missing, were exploited for labor, or ended up as one of the many ravaged street children in Colombia. In fact, 12% of youngsters under five years old not only suffer from chronic malnutrition, but a child dies a horrendously violent death every five minutes in that bleak world of lost little ones.

Their needs are so great it’s a tremendous challenge to keep those that are in school to believe in any kind of promising future at all. Up until recently, Colombia education statistics have reported that only 23 percent of young Colombians (aged 18 to 24) continue their education after high school. Most 8.2% of Colombians live way below the poverty line, living on less than $1.25 a day. Basically, they have nothing to look forward to in just about every level of their lives.

But there is hope. The Emiliani Project has become a shining beacon of promise for these desperate youth. Working 24/7 to provide round-the-clock care and education and housing, Emiliani is bolstering the Colombian education system to greater new heights. Together with a local charitable foundation—Fundacion Gente Unida—Emiliani is building a beautiful haven for these children. A home where so many young people can live full-time, protected, and lovingly cared for while receiving a formal education and at last becoming a productive part of the Colombian education system.

Emiliani won’t stop until all these beautiful young people have the kind of lives they deserve. The education of Colombia is one of The Emiliani Projects highest priorities.  The goal is to provide not only well-rounded intermediate and higher education, but also training in life skills for future job placement.  Every child should have a chance at a life full of literature, music, art, theatre, and so much more. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the face of despair transform into delight once these children of Medellin are rescued one-by-one. It takes very little to help them. But this tremendous effort cannot be done alone.

It really does take a village to help a village. It takes the power of education and the promise of a future for young people who never believed they could even look forward to one. We hope with all of our hearts you join our efforts so we can truly shine a light on their lives.

Visit our Join-Us page to find out you can help.

Street Children in Colombia

Street Children in Colombia

The New York Times article, “Displaced Residents Grapple With Hurdles of Going Home,” discusses how thousands of Colombian families have been displaced in the town of Mampuján due to 25 years of violent land takeovers by paramilitary groups.

Mampuján is just ten hours away from Medillin, so this article resonated with our organization. It points to a more deeply rooted problem in Colombia. It illustrates the devastation that occurs when violent groups infiltrate an area and use intimidation to gain dominion.

It creates a state of disarray in which the ability to recover becomes mind-blowing. This is how so many families have become impoverished, resulting in an influx of street children. These street children of Colombia are left without proper food, education, health care, and shelter.

According the United Nations, 65% of the population in Colombia is below the international poverty line. When Colombian families don’t have homes or a means of income, proper parenting becomes compromised. Colombian children aren’t adequately fed or supervised, and education is often non-existent. This typically results in Colombia children being exposed to physical and sexual abuse, and violence.

The article breeds hope as it explains how the government is implementing a nationwide program to bring back tens of thousands of displaced farmers to rural communities, like the one in Mampuján, that have been oppressed for decades by paramilitary groups, guerrillas and drug traffickers. Faith is tested when it becomes apparent just how complicated the logistics of retrieving land for these displaced families actually is.

Paper work is lacking for long-abandoned homes, the process is slow and fear still looms. The wound is deep. But as our organization knows well, healing is possible. We can save the street children of Colombia with your help. There is power in numbers.

We love the story in the article of how 32-year-old activist Mayerlis Angarita visits remote villages encouraging people to make land claims, despite threats on her life. It’s truly inspiring. And we revel in glimmers of hope.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please comment with your feedback.