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FANDIC 25th anniversary

Celebration of the 25th anniversary with many friends and collaborators.

The picture above is a great reminder of the people involved in creating and sustaining FANDIC over the last 25 years. There are family members, professionals, volunteers and CAPD Board members.

The journey has not been easy. Basically, it was like a mountain trek with ups and downs, paths that were stony and difficult, and frigid streams that had to be crossed. But there were also beautiful views along the way that sustained us until this point of reaching the high of celebrating 25 years! Congratulations FANDIC!

FANDIC’s core members work hard to prepare for the 4-day anniversary celebrations. Bryanda is on the left, Katherine in the centre and Olguita on the right. Rocio is in the background with her son Cristian.

Four CAPD Board members travelled to Bucaramanga to celebrate with Fandic. Left to right is Doña Carmen, FANDIC mother of a child with disability and her niece, Glenn CAPD and wife Maysan, Maribel, Carmen’s daughter, Marlene CAPD, Martha FANDIC, and Bryanda FANDIC. In the rear are Alfonso CAPD, Martha CAPD, and Diego FANDIC.

FANDIC presented photos that spanned the 25 years in 5-year blocks on the walls of Fandic Norte. In the photo above, Rocio presents the Green Light program’s 4 projects: academic, environmental, entrepreneurship & saving, and empowerment. She also took us on tour to Mesa de los Santos.

We travelled over a very rough road to a rural agricultural village to meet parents and students at one of the 13 local schools where the program is active. We heard so many good stories and saw the joy in faces as they told us about the positive effect of the program in their daily lives.

Thirteen years ago, this program came into being at behest of community leaders who talked about parents not able to afford school uniforms and kids working in the fields to boost family income. This year 51 beneficiares graduated from high school in Santander and Guajira. Three students from this village alone were attending university or technical college. Students and parents are proud of their accomplishments.

Parents also talked about the benefits of the savings program stating that they could now afford to tackle special projects such as a house expansion for a growing family. They talked about the benefit of the environmental project to plants trees and recycle plastic. Recycling meant fewer fires to burn garbage thus helping them keep their environment clean.

Green Light beneficiaries meet with visiting CAPD members to talk about their experiences.

We met FANDIC mothers, sons and daughters, that have developed their capabilities over the years. The young man below is a case in point.

Julian was a young child when he joined FANDIC and was part of the dance group. Now he is in University. We listen attentively as he tells his story.
This is the dance group today. They entertained us on multiple occasions during the festivities.

We visited both Fandic Norte and Fandic Sur where we met children and adults in the therapy program. The images below are of happy children at Fandic Sur.

These women form the elected committee of the Fandic savings group. It was year end and closure of the program for 2023. During the year, careful record was kept of each member’s monthly savings. At year end, the record was checked for the amount registered for each member, then placed in the envelopes seen at the bottom of the picture. Then each member was called to receive congratulation and her package of savings.

This last image is of our CAPD President, Martha Rojas. Martha is fully committed to CAPD and the support of FANDIC, which she has grown to love more and more with each visit.

Thank you all who have read the blog over the years and supported CAPD and FANDIC.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year, good health and much success in your endeavours in 2024.


A Christmas Thank You

Christmas in FANDIC

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.

Wishing you a joyous Christmas,

Marlene Wiens and CAPD Board

Filter Delivery in Ubaque

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.

Rural home visit – Hugo Andres

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 shares a smile with Marlene.

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.

Olguita with Hugo in the midst of the cacao 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.

Hugo Andres poses with his grandmother, Mery, and his grandfather, Hugo.

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 Rural Program wins first prize

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!

Fandic Rural team display their prize certificate.

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.

Congratulations to Fandic Rural program!

Multi-sectoral cooperation brings water filters to isolated areas

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.

You will recognize Bob from CAPD. On his left is Elver Vargas from the Department of Health of Santander who came along to learn more about the safe water initiative. Ivan Castro, FRPG project implementer, stands next to Luis Antonio Durán, President of the Water Board for the village of Mérida and community representative to the Board of ICPROC or Christian Institute for Farmer Promotion. On the far right are Alirio Medina, filter installer, and his wife, Doña María, who has a filter in her home.

Some of the houses with filters were very remote requiring a walk in mountainous and forested areas.

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.

Elver, as his role in the Secretariat of Health for Santander, is keenly interested in these filters and listens intently to Ivan’s explanations. Ivan would like to link the Secretariat in the second phase of the project to do water testing as part of the implementation of Colombia’s rural water policy.

Personal testimony of the impact of the filter on family life is provided by Doña María.
Yasmin and Sergio, homeowners of a filter, talk about using unfiltered water before and the difference the filter has made. Elver speaks about the importance involving multi-sector organizations such as churches, Community Action Boards, Aqueduct Boards, Rotary Clubs and FRPG, among others.

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.

The team poses at the end of the meeting. From left to right they are, María Isabel (Community Coordinator and ICPROC official), Iván Castro (FRPG Co-Director and Project Coordinator), Elver Vargas (Representative Departmental Secretary of Health of Santander), Marlene Wiens (CAPD Representative), Father Jairo Alberto Rave (Director of ICPROC), Bob Wiens (CAPD Representative and Calgary Stampede Rotary Club  Park), and Luis Antonio Durán (President of the JAC and Representative of the community on the ICPROC Board of Directors).

Isidoro, The Chocolate Man

Isidoro Caballero with Sara his salesperson on the left, and Claudia his chocolatier on the right.

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, Bob, and Marlene in front of a 3-D painting of a cocoa bean painted on his factory wall.

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.

Please read the blog posted on May 1, 2018, to learn more about Isidoro’s early life and how he overcame the odds.

Promotional Details:

Isidoro Caballero Arenas – Gerente

Cra. 27 No. 7-03 – Yariguies 2

315 204 4086 – 316 694 1979

Facebook: tienda de chocolates caballero

Impact of the Green Light Program

Meet Briceida and Karol, a mother and daughter team.

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.  

Cleaning up on plastic waste

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.

This community is just one of the 14 communities that participated in the project.

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!


A month in the life of a water filter project

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.

Sifting sand is hard work!
Another team mixes gravel with cement powder and water to make concrete.
The concrete is poured into a mold and given time to dry. This photo shows the process of removing the mold from the concrete filter box.

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.

The group chose a person to be in charge of construction of 60 filter boxes and a site for construction was provided by SEPAS – Pastoral Social de San Gil.
Next the ground for construction of the filter box is prepared.
Gravel and sand is delivered to the construction site.
Gravel is graded and sand is sifted for filter box construction.
Filter boxes are left full of water for 7 days and then examined for defects and leaks.

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.