Board members visit Colombian Programs

Last week, two CAPD Board members, Glenn and Maysan, made a whirlwind tour of three states in which CAPD has programs. Our first stop was La Guajira, a coastal, semi-arid state with a large population of indigenous people called Wayuu. Here, we had the pleasure of visiting CAPD’s newest addition to the Green Light Education Assistance Program – four primary schools located in Wayuu communities near Albania. We arrived to find students, teachers and parents gathered to greet us. Some schools presented a traditional dance whereas others presented us with a ‘mochila’, a traditional woven bag. All schools provided us with the opportunity to talk to the students. We felt very welcome.

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When these students start pre-school, they begin classes in Spanish as a second language. By grade 4, the threesome in the picture above were already able to converse very well in Spanish. Each of them delivered a well-prepared speech for us. Impressive!

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This newly painted school had not a drop of colour when I visited one year ago. The parents of the program painted it as their contribution to the Green Light Program. They also built a fence around the school to keep the goats out and cleaned up the school grounds.

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Martha, the coordinator of the Green Light program in this area shows us the new fence.

 

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Some schools presented the Wayuu traditional dance.
Students, teachers and parents assembled to greet us.
Students, teachers and parents assembled to greet us.

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Some of the children volunteered to come to the front to tell us what they wanted to be when they were older. Many told us they wanted to be a teacher, others a doctor, and still others a football player! One school had three special needs children who don’t yet receive specialized assistance in these schools – it is something to work towards.

Saying goodbye, we left this coastal region and headed for city of Pereira located in a mountainous coffee-growing zone of Colombia. Here we visited with junior high students from two schools, one of which is presented below.

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These students, also part of the Green Light program, tell us about their ambitions for the future. The girls were the major spokespersons when the group was asked about their future ambitions. They were being questioned by Maysan (CAPD President) and Glenn (CAPD Secretary) along with Gilma (Green Light Coordinator in Risaralda) and Paulina the Green Light facilitator for the school.

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This little tot wasn’t officially enrolled for this year but just came along with his sibling. Maysan took interest in his puzzling work and gave him a hand.

The Green Light Education Assistance Program is available to students from low-income families in the states of Santander, Risaralda and La Guajira. Students must maintain a 75% average to stay in the program and their parents (or substitute) contribute their labour to school maintenance or programs. This year, 828 students benefited from this program that aims to keep the students in school until graduation.

Stay tuned to read Part 2 of our visitors’ trip to Colombia.

Marlene