The Green Light program reaches the lives of children and young people in rural communities of Santander and Guajira, offering hope and transforming lives.

It has been possible to continue with the projects during the pandemic in 2021 as the stories below will contest.

Environmental project

The project aims to raise awareness about care of the environment. One of the goals is to implement two training campaigns in environmental leadership with participating children, young people, and facilitators, and to engage in a planting campaign within 16 communities. Here are some stories shared.

The Campaign “Sow a tree, take care of the earth” in Santander. More than 350 students planted trees in April in 16 communities in Santander, including 14 in the rural area of the municipality of Los Santos. Some chose fruit trees and medicinal bushes; others chose to protect water sources and gardens.

Karol Yirley is 16 years old and is in the 11th grade at La Laguna school. She hopes to continue studying after graduation but is still not sure that she wants to study. However, she aspires to win one of the scholarships offered by the state for young people like her, to win a scholarship for university studies. She lives in the village of Regadero with her parents and a younger sister. She has participated in the Program since she was in 3rd grade and has been a beneficiary for 9 years. Her family is committed to her education and participation in the program. Karol Yirley is saving in the ‘Yes’ savings and entrepreneurship project and her mother participates in the activities of the women’s empowerment project. Karol Yirley says “I am going to take care of this tree until it is strong and no longer needs my care.

“Training in Environmental Education: During August, the facilitators representing rural communities of Los Santos in Santander, began training in environmental leadership with the organization CIDEMOS, the entity in charge of the Sogamoso Reservoir. The plan is for them to plant trees that protect the water in the streams flowing through some communities. Plants were delivered in September with the idea of having the facilitators work with children to start a nursery that will provide trees for planting in each community.

Campaign to plant trees in Guajira

In Guajira, an average of 500 trees were delivered for planting in the communities of Jurimakal and Nuevo Amanecer. Unfortunately, the delivery was made during dry season and few trees managed to survive. In addition, they were not fenced, and the goats being raised by families ate them. This situation was a learning experience. Now, seedbeds are being made with the proper enclosure for another delivery of trees during the rainy season.

Ariadne is from the Jurimakal community. She is 12 years old and in grade 5 in her community school. She has been a beneficiary of the program for 2 years.

This is one of the few trees that managed to survive the inclement climate and drought. She, with the help of her uncle José Ángel, installed a small drip system and this allowed the little tree to survive.

Campaign to collect recyclables

The Bottle Cap Collection Campaign, “I can also help others”. (Note: bottle caps are collected for donation to an entity that provides assistance to families.) Sixteen communities participated in the campaign, competing among themselves to receive the prize, a special snack for them and their friends at the end of the school year. The students in Espinal Bajo are highly motivated as demonstrated by the story of Joan Manuel.

Joan Manuel is motivated to collect bottle caps and win the end of year farewell snack. He is also motivated knowing he can help another child through his efforts. Joan is turning 9 years old. He studies at the Laguna school in the Espinal Bajo village. He is in 4th grade and has been in the Program for 3 years. His brother, José Alfredo, was in the Program for 6 years and is now in the second semester studying “environmental resources technology” after receiving a government ‘Generation E’ scholarship for higher education.

Yolibeth lives in the community of San José. She is 13 years old, in 7th grade and the second of six siblings, two of whom also benefit from the Program. She is very active in the recycling project.

Despite the fact that these communities have little access to the purchase of soft drinks, they with friends and neighbors, have carried out the campaign to collect bottle caps to donate or to help one of the children of the community acquire a school kit.

These stories are just a few examples of how Green Light projects are changing the lives of students and their families.

Rocio Nuñez

Green Light Program Coordinator