Thank you to all who put a smile on the face of children and adults alike through your donation of time and funds. Your investment in the lives of others has lifted the spirits and improved the lives of many families.
The following blog is a picture diary of the process of delivering filters to a mountain village.
It was a two-hour drive from our location in Bogota to the village of Belen in the township of Ubaque with ten Rotarians from the Bogota Chapinero Rotary club. We were delivering 40 BioSand filters in the last phase of a project that provided 120 filters in all.
The filters, sand and gravel arrived carefully packed from Ibague the capital city of Tolima. The filters were assembled by the Nuevo Ibague Rotary Club and purchased by the Bogota Chapinero Club. This cooperation is an example of word of mouth amongst Rotarians about providing safe water to rural families.
Local men and Rotarians got busy unloading the truck and organizing the filters and all the components.
They fitted each filter with a lid and made sure each one had a bucket with lid and tap.
Later the buckets were grouped and filled with various components required for installation.
Club President, Jaime, stands with Julio, a resident proponent of the project.
Bob tells the story of the development of the filter and the function of each component.
The official Rotary photo documenting the event.
As the Rotarians file up the hill to their transportation, the villagers begin the process of loading up the filters for distribution to their homes.
These projects come together through cooperation. CAPD provided the molds that built the filter boxes and financed the transportation of the first shipment. The Nueva Ibague Rotary Club built the boxes and put components together. The Bogota Capinero Rotary Club raised the funds and implemented the project with the help of local community leaders. Now that they have this experience behind them, they are aiming to scale up to serve more families by writing a Rotary Foundation Global Grant.
We finally reached the home of Hugo Andres and his grandparents at the end of a tortuous road, and there he was, like a pop-up, at our car window, welcoming us to his home. He had been waiting for us.
Hugo Andres is an amiable 23-year-old with an intellectual disability. He lives on a cacao farm of one-half hectare with his aging grandparents, Mery and Hugo, in a barrio called La Sabana. Hugo Andres loves his life on the farm. He helps his grandparents with the cacao farm but needs direction for each step.
His grandparents are concerned about what will happen to Hugo Andres once they pass on. They want him to have the cacao farm, but at this point, he can’t manage it on his own. Another concern is that Hugo Andres doesn’t know about money – the denominations, how to make change, how to budget etc. He will have help from neighbours, but there is a lot to learn if he will be able to live independently on the farm.
Hugo kindly showed Olguita and me around his farm while therapists worked with Hugo Andres indoors. He showed us part of the cacao growing process and talked about Hugo Andres. He looks after himself very well. He studied up to grade 2 in school, goes to the country store to buy items for the house, gets along with everyone and has lots of friends. But he has never had any special attention of any kind until now and his grandfather is worried. Hugo Andres has been with Fandic for five months. There is opportunity, but time is short.
The little walk through the farm was very helpful in giving Olguita thoughts about a possible 3-point therapy plan which she discussed with Hugo. The plan requires up-front work on the part of the therapists to learn the process of cacao farming and to represent it in picture form; then to go over it repeatedly with Hugo Andres until he learns it. Secondly, to give him a plot of land as a practice plot but also a plot over which he will have ownership. The last point in the plan is to learn money management, something that Fandic already includes in their therapy plan for other adolescents.
I sensed the love in this family. The grandparents want their grandson to succeed. They want him to have a future. But they have not had the orientation required to achieve this goal until now. With God’s help and with that of Fandic, their goal will be realized.
Fandic has now grown to three sites: Fandic North (the traditional site), Fandic Rural program (added last year), and Fandic South (added this year). They have three separate therapy teams for the three programs.
A competition is held by the Municipal Disability Program on an annual basis to display the work done by organizations receiving municipal contracts. The presentations are judged, and the news is that Fandic’s presentation of the rural program won first prize!
Therapists in the rural program travel one to two hours over unpaved roads to reach 3-4 families. Because the roads are inappropriate for the van, Fandic uses a rented car. Therapist of the various professions rotate through so each family receives attention from each profession. There are 30 families in the rural program, all identified by the Municipal Disability Program as needing attention. The therapists in the rural program speak of their love for this program as do the families who benefit.
The winning video is of a girl called Salome. She is five years old, has a physical disability and is in preschool. In the video, Salome engages in activities with various professionals.
Cooperation Colombian and Canadian organizations plus local leadership are all important as the picture below exemplifies. The project presented below was a pilot project funded by CAPD, Rotary clubs and the Catholic Christian Institute for Farmer Promotion for approximately 60 filters this year.
Bob comments that running a filter project in the mountains makes filter installation and follow-up that much more difficult. In fact, some of the terrain was so mountainous that the best way to deliver filters was through a cable as seen in the video below.
There is a plan afoot to to expand the number of beneficiaries, implementing 30 additional filters in other villages of the municipality of San Vicente de Chucurí and 45 more in the rural area of the municipality of Carmen de Chucurí. To this end, a meeting with the Bishop of the Diocese of Barrancabermeja and Father Jairo Alberto Rave, the Director of ICPROC, was held.
Some of you may remember the blog written in May1, 2018 about Isidoro, a man with vision. His business is Chocolates Caballero located in San Vincente de Chucurí, Santander. He has made a lot of progress since 2018. His products are now registered with the Colombian National Institute for Drug and Food Surveillance IMVIMA and being sold to distributors, chocolatiers, and supermarkets, as well as to local customers. My favourite products are the ones held by Isidoro – powdered chocolate and chocolate in balls, both for making hot chocolate.
I admire Isidoro because of his resolve to look for solutions. He did not give up despite setbacks such as the pandemic that killed business in his previous store front. His present location is next to the main plaza and is shared with two other complimentary businesses thus reducing operational costs.
Isidoro is in the process of acquiring a “Green Product” designation and has made connections with larger companies to help him to market his product.
As to sustainability, Isidoro welcomes his two daughters, Marcela and Gennifer, to take on roles as business administrator and financial manager.
Briceida became a facilitator for Green Light when Karol was 10 years old and in grade five. The year was 2010, the first year of the program. Even though the two available spots in the program went to her younger sisters, Karol was greatly influenced by the program’s training on her mother.
Her mother became her role model. She witnessed how the training her mother received as facilitator empowered her and how she became more self-confident. Karol says that her mom changed her way of thinking and the way in which she viewed the world. As a facilitator, her mother was able to engage the part of her that always wanted to be a teacher. She felt fulfilled by her work with students, families, and community.
Karol began working toward her own future at age 15 with a part-time job. She says she admired Rocio, the Green Light Coordinator, and the work Rocio was doing with the community. She realized that she also wanted to work with the community.
Karol is now in her last semester of Social Work at the Santander Industrial University (UIS) and is completing her practice requirements with the Green Light program in her home community of Los Santos. Her role is to provide community training in the various projects and to strengthen the facilitators through supportive activities. Her specific project is to bring awareness to environmental issues such as protection of water sources and recuperation of public spaces such as schools. Her goal is to follow in Rocio’s footsteps and work with communities following university graduation.
This story is just one example of the impact the Green Light program has on students, facilitators, and families.
The Green Light Program is committed to eliminating plastic and encouraging environmental sustainability of communities. This project is a key initiative in rural communities of the municipality of Los Santos and families with disabilities in Bucaramanga. In five months, 14 communities, with the cooperation of CAPD, the Municipality of Los Santos, the Bottles of Love Foundation, and the center of collection, delivered 579.4 kilos of bottles full of plastic and 388 kilos of bottle caps. They continue to work with heart and effort.
CAPD fully supports the efforts of Green Light to draw awareness to environmental sustainability through projects such as recycling waste and tree planting.
Thanks to these young people who put in the effort!
The following blog will provide a pictorial representation of one aspect of a typical water filter project as reported by our partners, Ivan and Rocio from Fundación Red Proyecto Gente.
Preliminary to any project, contact is made with possible co-partners in the zone. In the month of March, Ivan and Rocio met with an organization called SEPAS – San Gil, a Pastoral Social organization, to plan a pilot project in which 60 families from Santander would be served. The training workshop was held on March 11 & 12 for 19 representatives of 16 parishes. Training included theoretical plus practical components.
Throughout the month of March, Ivan and Rocio visited 6 crushers and/or quarries to find appropriate materials for concrete. They chose gravel from one and sand from another.
In parallel with this process, installers, community coordinators and beneficiary families are selected and trained. As well, filter media materials are ordered. In conclusion, filter box training and construction is an important step but not the only one in the process of providing safe water to communities.
This pilot project was funded by the Rotary Club of Calgary at Stampede Park in collaboration with CAPD.
Is it possible to save in Colombia? For communities depending on a meager harvest that satisfies only basic needs? Or for those who live on a day-to-day basis? It should be impossible! However, the Green Light program is committed to achieving it.
Our savings and entrepreneurship project is based on the experiential methodology patented by the Investing Hope Foundation, whose purpose is to train leaders in financial education by promoting the culture of savings, and guiding children and youth to make clear goals towards their life project.
Saving in the midst of the socioeconomic situation generated by the Sars2 COVID 19 pandemic was quite a challenge. The goal for 2021 was to consolidate the savings groups. There were 27 groups of adults who saved $114,000,000 pesos or $36,000 CAD and 22 groups of children, who saved $19,000,000 pesos or $6,000 CAD. Please note that 97% of the groups live in rural areas and indigenous communities. Three inspiring stories will be shared.
Below is an inspiring story from Santander. The family of Erik and Zarit live relatively close to each other. They were motivated by their mothers and grandmother who began saving in 2019 and formed a saving habit. Today the whole family saves.
Cousins, Erik 14 (extreme right) and Zarit 13 (extreme left), joined a savings group for the first time and they were the winners for most saved. Thanks to their participation in the Hope for Tomorrow group, they met their goal and bought a computer that allows them to meet their academic requirements. With weekly sales of candy skewers, peanuts, jellies, empanadas, and other sales, they saved $980,000 pesos or $309 CAD. Erik and Zarit are the secretary and president of the committee that directs the group and as such, they encouraged their peers to pursue their dreams saving $3,351,000 pesos or $1,060 CAD in total.
Another inspiring story comes from Guajira. Martha is an indigenous girl who aims to build a future with her sisters and sees, in the savings project, an opportunity to achieve it. She must, however, overcome many challenges including walking long distances to offer their products, and to refrain from dipping into earnings to satisfy a basic need.
Martha and her sisters managed to save $282,000 pesos or $89.00 CAD through weekly activities such as selling bread, sweets, small market combos, and other items. These savings were invested in two goats. Their success motivates them to reach their dream of saving enough to go to university. For 11-year-old Martha and her sisters, 14 and 9 years old, it was their first time in a savings group, and although the amount seems small, it was quite a challenge when considering the economic conditions of the family and the limited opportunities offered in that area.
Martha has 9 siblings. She is number 5 and lives with her parents and her 7 siblings. She and her two sisters agreed to save in the Achieve More savings group in their community called New Hope. She served as secretary of the savings committee.
Martha is characterized as a very committed and responsible girl, not only with her education but also with the project.
Another aspect of the program in Santander and Guajira, is small loans for those who are entrepreneurs and want to improve their business. Receiving loans from the savings groups frees them from the so-called informal “drop by drop” loans with interest of up to 10% monthly, in which they become trapped without the possibility of getting out of said debts.
Erlider (below), from Guajira, participated in the savings project for adults and was one of the loan beneficiaries to improve his business.
Erlider works for the Rotary Foundation Hands in Solidarity charity and is also part of the Initiating the Future group. He has a small business of buying and selling cheese in the municipality of Albania. He received a small loan of 500,000 pesos or $158.00 CAD with extremely low interest from the group’s savings account, with which he was able to expand his business. He is happy and grateful to the program.
Erlider responsibly reimbursed the loan with interest in the stipulated length of time. He saved $450,000 pesos or $142.00 CAD, which he invested in his business. He is grateful because the project freed him from taking high-interest loans.
THANK YOU to those who collaborate directly or indirectly so we can reach more families and encourage the habit of saving in vulnerable communities. Our goal is to continue learning and transforming lives.