In 2017, CAPD decided to name a National Coordinator for the Green Light Education Assistance Program in Colombia to provide orientation and monitoring of the programs in the states in which it is offered.
In March of this year, the National Coordinator, Rocio Núñez Espinel, visited Wayuu communities in La Guajira where the program is active, to provide orientation and training to the coordinator for that state and her facilitators. The overall objective of the program is to encourage the children and youth of these communities to stay in school. The follow-up and monitoring is done with the help of Rotary Club Fundación Manos Solidarias.
It was of great concern that all schools in the state were closed for the first semester of the year because the position of State Governor was left vacant. The Education department would not open schools until they could guarantee funding for the lunch program and for transport, both necessary elements for indigenous and rural communities.
Despite the obstacles faced by the closure of schools, the Green Light program was active because it is essentially a community program that continued to do its work with students and parents.
The photo below shows me (white shirt) in the school of the community called New Hope. A child came up to me to take the photo in my arms. This was a special, caring gesture that caused the other children to trust me and to come closer.
The following paragraphs will tell you about my visit to the communities where the facilitators, with the collaboration of the coordinator, organize community activities that embellish the schools. I asked people in the community about their activities. The response from the teacher in San Jose was, “The coordinator calls meetings through the facilitator and delivers materials for us to work with in the school. One activity was to put a fence around the school to keep out the goats, which was important because the goats didn’t want to leave the school and damaged the floor. But now it is the children who study in the school, not the animals”.
The comments from the facilitator of New Hope were, “we have been working in the ‘rosa’”. What do you mean? “Rosa is a community garden in which everyone plants different crops and when they are ready, we all harvest them and share the food. This activity gives us pleasure because we have food to eat. After the last harvest, we cooked for everyone in the community”.
Comments from the teacher in Coveñas: “Up to a short time ago, some students who were sent to school by their parents didn’t attend, but herded goats instead and although we raised this problem with the parents many times, there was no change in the situation. Now the parents come to school with their children, especially those who didn’t attend. The number of parents in the school meetings has increased. For the first time, the students have new, complete uniforms. The teachers have also been motivated because of the assistance received”.
The photo below shows the community of Coveñas working as one for their school. The yard is well cared for by the parents, mothers and children benefiting from the program, because they realize that it benefits everyone.
The Rotary Club collaborates by training a group of high school students benefiting from the program, to tutor primary students with educational needs or poor marks. What is interesting is that the students simultaneously started to orientate primary children in their respective communities even before classes began.
The photos below show the second meeting organized by the Rotary Club, and the high school students tutoring in school classrooms and community meeting places.
In addition, the Rotary Club gathered used books in good condition and of good quality to take to the schools with the objective of constructing a library for students to research topics. Parents and teachers fixed up the book shelves and painted them.
The photos below show Martha, the coordinator, delivering the uniform kits to the community and the children with their uniforms and books.
The 254 students had to wait many months to receive their uniform kits because of the school closure. The wait finally at an end, the students happily received their uniforms.
The leaders representing their communities expressed their thanks and their desire to continue motivating their communities to participate in the program. The same was expressed by the parents who said, “It is the first time that my children are wearing a uniform to school. Now they are happy and we are too”.
The photo below reflects the pride of the children upon receiving their education assistance.
Finally, I’d like to thank those who spoke to me expressing their appreciation for the program and especially to the children for their warm reception. I am happy to see the commitment of those who manage the program and who strengthen participation within the Wayuu communities.