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

FANDIC Centre Opens

A 2021 contract with the Bucaramanga Municipal Government signals change. Fandic now provides in-person services albeit with masks and precautions in place

Fandic provides therapies for 56 families in the urban centre. The pictures above and below show the evaluation of children in the FANDIC Centre. Children receive therapy in key areas such as occupational, speech and physical therapy, and psychology.

Also, for the first time ever, FANDIC is responsible for rehabilitation for 30 families in the rural sector.

Details are recorded in first home visit to a rural home. These families are on the government’s roster and signal an expansion of FANDIC’s coverage.

Leaders, Olga Lucia and Bryanda, are very happy to be using the FANDIC Centre on a full-time basis again. They welcome the expansion of services and their new therapy team, who received preliminary training as pictured below.

The team received training in Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR). CBR is a WHO health and rehabilitation strategy that emphasizes rights and opportunities for people with disability through education and awareness at all levels – family, community, and government.
FANDIC proudly presents its professional team for 2021.

CAPD congratulates FANDIC on moving through a difficult time and embracing new challenges. We wish them well as they live out their mission to provide integrated services and opportunities for children with disability and their families.



You might recognize this couple, Ivan and Rocio, from previous blogs on the Safe Water Program. They are founders of FRPG – Fundación Red Proyecto Gente, or a network for people projects. Bob and I came to know them in 2014 when they took a chance, as well as a 4-hour bus ride, to meet Bob to talk about water and the BioSand filter. They were keenly interested in the topic of Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) and Ivan had some experience in this area. They wanted to somehow get involved and collaborate with the CAPD Safe Water Program.

A seed was planted that day that grew into a fruitful relationship, that eventually grew into a formal partnership with CAPD.  How did that come to be? It seems to me that it started with that conversation, grew under Bob’s mentorship, and gained strength through CAPD financial support for small HWTS projects.  An essential component, however, was their deep-seated desire to serve rural communities.

Skip to today, 2021:  FRPG has formal agreements with CAPD, implementing small projects, and with CAWST, providing training to the wider international network of CAWST clientele.  And when needed, provides training to Rotary funded HWTS project teams.  Presently, Ivan and Rocio are wrapping up a 6-weekly virtual webinar on RAM pumps and HWTS for rural areas sponsored by CAWST, RELX, a European NGO and AIDFI, a Philippine NGO.  CAPD is participating by sponsoring the professional time of Ivan and Rocio.  The webinar participants, numbering between 80 and 100 per session, are from Canada, Colombia, Honduras and Spain.  My oh my, how things have changed since our first meeting in 2014.

Ivan and Rocio, having had experience in implementing BioSand water filtration systems in communities through CAPD, are recognized by CAWST as experts in rural water systems and are helping to raise awareness of Colombian policies on rural water regulation. Having previously developed training modules for virtual forums, they are responsible for a large part of the webinar content. Their didactic materials are developed by CAWST (Calgary) who also serves as the host of the webinars.

The webinars are but a stepping-stone to their next initiative. They are currently developing a course on TANDAS (household water treatment and safe storage) for 3 Universities in Bolivia and exploring doing the same for universities and government entities in Colombia. 

I find this very exciting because it provides such a marvellous example of community development. One never knows where a conversation might lead.

CAPD would like to acknowledge and thank ALL its program and project leaders for their dedicated service to their respective communities. The majority have been with us for quite a long time. For them, it is not a job; it is their mission. They are indeed a treasure to be prized by both Colombians and Canadians.


Update on Colombian Projects

Hello Friends,

We are incredibly thankful for the progress made in our three programs in Colombia despite the difficulties of this year. Going virtual has actually strengthened some program aspects. We have huge respect for our Colombian partners for their diligence in creating new modes of communicating and supporting their respective communities.

We also want to thank YOU, our friends and donors, for your faithful interest and support.

Green Light Program

Practicing good hygiene
Carlos and his parents simulating good hygiene practices with paint.

Carlos Augusto is a member of a Yes Club. In this picture he engages his parents, Sergio and Silvia, in a training module developed by the Investing Hope Foundation titled, “Entrepreneur in the time of Crisis”. This module teaches good hygiene practices when preparing any type of food and the contaminants that can be avoided through careful handwashing.

The objective of this simulation is to raise awareness of the importance of hygiene in maintaining health. The module also encourages Carlos and his parents to think of what they could do for others in the time of the pandemic.

By the way, Carlos Augusto won top prize for money saved and his club saved the most of all 4 Yes clubs in Santander.

Marcela used her savings to purchase this pot.

Marcela is a member of a Gema savings group. She typically makes and sells tamales to earn money. This year has been particularly difficult to save because the cost of ingredients has risen markedly. However, through great effort by buying only that which was strictly necessary, and the help of Father God (her words) she was able to save the most in her group. She decided to invest her savings to help grow her business so she bought a huge pot to produce more tamales.

Marcela had never saved money before starting with the Gema group and states that it has been a very positive experience. Her long-term goal is to save enough money to construct a house for her family and to afford to educate her children.

Safe Water Program

The Safe Water Program made some progress despite the pandemic stopping or postponing many community activities. For example, the Rotary Club of Ipiales was able to complete one project when lockdown was partially lifted.

Rotary Club of Ipiales training indigenous families prior to installation in their homes.
An installer finishing up an installation in the home.

Meanwhile, a lot of work was done to secure funding for next year’s projects. Five Rotary clubs have funding applications either approved or in progress. CAPD’s partners, Ivan and Rocio of FRPG, went virtual with training as well as connecting with prospective clients who have shown interest in developing projects.

CAPD and FRPG have strong connection with a Calgary-based BioSand Educational organization called CAWST who have developed a certification program for facilitators, constructors, and installers. FRPG has received various certifications and have certified 20-30 people. They also participated in a learning exchange with 15 participants held by Zoom.

FANDIC – Program of Inclusion

Yerly Carolina’s family didn’t miss a beat when they went virtual. Instead of visits to Fandic Centre for therapy, they created a space in the home where Yerly’s mother (who couldn’t work due to the pandemic) and her grandmother carried on with her therapy throughout the week as guided by the therapists involved in her care. The family reports that Yerly was very happy working at home. She improved in her communication with the family, made physical gains in postural control, and generally became more attentive in listening and observing.

Her caregivers also participated in the Women’s Support Network, a special on-line initiative of Fandic for 40 women and youth with intellectual disability that emphasized personal empowerment, leadership training, and self-esteem. These workshops were considered necessary because of the increased pressure on women to fulfil multiple roles within the family due to the lockdown and to help them deal with emotional tensions and communication issues arising within the family. The sessions, led by professionals volunteering their time, encouraged sharing by the participants that helped to strengthen social ties and establish friendships. The women also received T-shirts and caps that identified them as a woman’s support network, another self-esteem booster.  

FANDIC distributes groceries supplied by the Municipality to 40 families.

On that note of giving and receiving, we end our post with hearts full of gratitude that our program communities are healthy and safe.

Thanks be to God and to you, our supporters and friends.

Bob, Marlene and CAPD Board.

Update on Safe Water Program

The COVID-19 pandemic is still impacting Colombia in a forceful way. As of August 25th, the 7-day average for new infections is still approx. 10,000 per day with a potential decline in the coming days.  The 7-day average for deaths exceeds 300 per day. The various levels of governments have instituted strict quarantine laws, much stricter than here in Canada but intensive care beds are in short supply in most parts. 

CAPD safe water program has been severely impacted by the pandemic.  Our implementing partner Rotary clubs with projects underway have been shutdown for many months now to comply with the quarantine restrictions and to protect their members and contracted personnel who would normally be visiting communities, managing fabrication and transport of filter components, training beneficiaries in the villages, and physically monitoring use and maintenance of filters in each beneficiary home.  The personnel contracted to work in the various aspects mentioned, have been without income for several months now and many are struggling financially.

One Rotary club is about to finish its project by redirecting a small amount of remaining funds to the delivery of masks and handwashing materials to rural families.  The delivery has been a challenge as well.

Mario Correa with filters ready to be shipped to villages.

On a more positive note, during these months of isolation, there has been some progress.  Bob has worked with various entities to finance (via Rotary and CAPD) 3 filter projects which will start up once it is safe for personnel to do so.

Our good friend and filter champion Mario Correa in Ibague has received notice that the seeds he and his Rotary club planted over the last 2 years have taken root and his club will receive funding from a large corporate foundation to benefit 50 families with filters and training. Great news indeed.  We need more friends like him!

Ivan and Rocio in a pre-COVID training session.

Ivan and Rocio of FRPG (Fundacion Red Proyecto Gente) continue to work with CAPD. They have spent their quarantine time by organizing virtual presentations, improving training materials, and following up with entities interested in co-financing filter projects once the pandemic permits them to do so.  Two entities will proceed with co-financed projects involving FRPG and CAPD, once the pandemic permits.

In the past, FRPG has done many on-site training sessions for implementers but presently this has been put on hold.  Now, they are working on delivery of virtual training sessions, although some aspects still need physical sessions.

FRPG has also been working with approximately 10 community coordinators from existing projects to complete “Certificates of Qualification”.  This is a certification program, developed and promoted by CAWST (Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology), which validates the skills and knowledge of the coordinators.  This program is very attractive for coordinators who may be looking for work with other entities involved in household water treatment and who need some tangible evidence for their resume.  

We thank Ivan and Rocio of FRPG for their continued dedication and leadership in training and development, and our Rotary Partners for pursuing opportunities even during this difficult time.


Green Light response to the pandemic

Green Light Education Assistance Program

Over the last years, Green Light has grown from a program that rewards students who achieve a 75% average with uniforms, shoes and school supplies, to a program that encourages community projects. These projects are aimed at developing common community goals that lead to environmental and financial well-being. They also provide student and parent training in subjects such as substance abuse, inter-family relationships, entrepreneurship and saving.  The latter two subjects are prepared by Investing Hope Foundation (IHF) and delivered by Green Light Facilitators and Coordinators.

The school year started mid-January allowing the uniform and school kits to be delivered pre-COVID to 395 students in Santander and 174 students in Guajira. But activity on community projects came to an abrupt halt in March with the onset of lockdown in Colombia.  

The first post-lock down action was to provide food packages to the families involved in the program.

Soon, the Savings and Entrepreneurship programs got up and running using a combination of virtual and face-to-face meetings. Virtual training sessions on budgeting were provided to Gema Savings groups (20 in Santander and a pilot group in Guajira). To date these groups have saved 41.572.700 COP or $14,560 CAD.

The students were likewise engaged in entrepreneurship activities. Pre-COVID they sold candy, cake, and raffles.

Those activities have largely been suspended but virtual training modules continue to be delivered on topics such as self-care during COVID-19 and the value of entrepreneurship. The savings and entrepreneurship groups will continue until the end of October.

As in Canada, virtual education is challenging due to many factors. The Green Light program is currently engaged in surveying students to better understand their situation. Our goal is to find supportive strategies to help our students reach their academic goals despite the pandemic.

A bouquet to Green Light Facilitators and Coordinators who are leading their communities through difficult times by staying in contact with students and families, offering virtual training, and organizing activities within the pandemic guidelines. Thanks to the IHF for continuing to roll out their training modules and for their oversight through audits.  

We are very thankful that Green Light families are infection-free to date.


CAPD programs during COVID 19

Hello Everyone,

As Colombia learns to deal with the shock of the pandemic, new ways of providing service while keeping vulnerable populations safe are created. FANDIC is a case in point.

The Bucaramanga municipality contracted FANDIC to provide service to 72 vulnerable children and their families. FANDIC developed home programs designed to meet the general needs of those children enrolled in school (26%), those who are independent, semi-independent, and dependent.

Home program instruction kits are provided to the families on a weekly basis. Professionals (occupational therapist, physiotherapist and 2 psychologists) make up the kits and provide individual interventions by telephone, WhatsApp, zoom or whatever media the family prefers.

The parent or caregiver uses the instruction kits to provide therapy to their child with the positive result that parents are participating even more than before COVID. It is, in effect, a powerful example of the effectiveness of empowering families to take charge while providing backup professional assistance.     

This method of working has been a huge adjustment for everyone and certainly more work for professionals and staff. But is has been worth it. Parents are compliant and thankful to have the support of FANDIC. The kits are working well as well as virtual counselling by professionals. The evidence is in their feedback and videos sent of their home treatment sessions.

Please have a look at this short video made by FANDIC about a month ago. English subtitles are posted on the pictures:

It is our intention to provide you, our friends and donors, information on how our programs are coping during the pandemic. Bob and I have suspended our plans to make personal visits until some indeterminate time in the future.    

Thanks for your interest and support,


Custom wheelchairs change lives

Yorcelis with Martha, Coordinator in La Guajira, her mother and John, the engineer.

Yorcelis was simply overjoyed to receive her new chair. She made that quite clear from the moment she locked eyes on it. You can tell by the picture that her house is surrounded by sand; in fact, it is separated from the main highway by a sand road of 12 km. This new chair makes life easier for her and her mother to go to medical appointments.

Alina with Juan Jose in Monteria.

Not all the chairs we provide are new. Many are recycled and refurbished. The chair above has had at least 4 different occupants and is our favourite for small children of 3-4 years.

Members of the Rotary club Ronda del Sinu in Monteria and Marlene pose with Johan in his newly refurbished stroller.

It is a team effort. The local Rotary clubs identify the children to be evaluated and provide all the logistical work. Marlene from CAPD connects the Rotarians with the team at Asodispie plus brings experience and therapeutic skills to the project.

Gerbi with his mother in La Guajira. His chair is a new one to meet his current needs.

The short time I spend with families, gives me an tiny insight into their lives. I meet parents, mostly mothers, some of whom are foster mothers of children abandoned due to their disability. I see the love and care these children receive and realize that they are indeed a gift because our interaction with them helps us to become more human.

I have visited Gerbi and his mother for 4 years. I feel his mother and I connect in a way that is special to me. That connection has a history that speaks of listening, solving issues together, empathy and love. It is in our eyes and in our hearts.

This project is jointly financed by CAPD and our partners, Rotary Club Ronda del Sinu of Monteria, Rotary Foundation Manos Solidarias of Cerrejon, and by Asodispie in Santander. Our technical team in Asodispie consists of John (engineer), Jorge (technician) and Oscar (treasurer).

Thank you to all who have participated with your interest and donations.


Safe Water Project in Ipiales

As part of the CAPD safe water program, Bob visits Rotary clubs in Colombia that are doing filter projects, mostly funded by Global Grants from The Rotary Foundation.  Something new that CAPD started in 2018 is a training program for community volunteers who live among the families receiving water filters.  These volunteers help the Rotary Community Coordinator in organizing community meetings, solve simple problems, and answer families’ questions when the Rotarians or the Community Coordinator is not there.  The initial training is a 2-day workshop at the beginning of the project with a follow-up refresher one year after the project gets underway.  Ivan Castro and Rocio Robayo have been delivering this training, sometimes at CAPD expense and sometimes at the Rotary project expense.

Ivan and Rocio, trainers and facilitators of the Safe Water Program.

Ivan, Rocio and I delivered such training in Ipiales in late 2018, , a city of 140,000, located right on the Ecuador border.  The area is at very high altitude (more than 3,000 meters) so it is cold, very fertile and gets lots of rain.  There are many small landholders who grow crops such as potatoes, broccoli and many other vegetables, within sight of the city.

Potato field, one example of crops in this zone.

The refresher training started off in an indigenous community called “12 de Octubre” where the 3 of us divided into separate groups, each including a Community Volunteer. Each group visited 4-5 homes and noted the physical aspects of the filters, familial processes and volunteer processes.  Later we reviewed our observations and found that the only problems encountered were the lack of a chlorine dropper bottle and incorrect outlet tube lengths .

Group members included Bob, Evan and Rocio, Rotarians from the Ipiales club and Community Volunteers.
Community volunteers are not paid but receive a shirt and a book bag with the program logo among other perks.

This tour and discussion was followed by a massive lunch at 10 am in the morning – they called it a light refreshment. We were in BIG TROUBLE because we knew the community in Guacuan, the next stop, was preparing a huge lunch for the entire community.

In Colombian culture one should shake hands with everyone, and I must say, it took a while.
Bob looked in a few pots and the ladies had been busy – a big pot of Sancocho soup, a pot with 3 kg of rice, another pot of boiled potatoes, and a monster pot of chopped up chicken.

Of course, as guests, we got the biggest portions.  Bob managed the soup but his main plate went back to community members who are more than happy to take leftovers home. 

Next came the speeches and photo opportunities with children, individual families and everyone together

Bob addressing the community.

The feedback from families using the filters was very gratifying.  Biological contamination in this area is extreme and people had been boiling their water with natural gas or wood in the past.  This was no longer necessary with the filters – and the water tasted great!

Bob visits with children from the community.

A couple stories.  Rumour has it that men prefer to drink filtered water after a night of hard drinking, because they wake up in the morning without a tummy ache.  Another gentleman stated that he preferred filtered water when making his guarapo (home brew) because it was sweeter. To each his own! 

Fernando, a 5-year old.

For me the most touching story was this little boy Fernando who, at 5 years, is small for his age. His mother is a conscientious Community Volunteer in the sector ’12 de Octubre’.  Because we were squished in the truck Fernando rode on my lap in the front seat.  As we were passing the Hospital in Ipiales, he pointed it out.  At 5 years of age he knew it well.  He and his mother had visited there several times when he had acute diarrhea. Now that they have a filter, they no longer need to visit the hospital to be treated for diarrhea.

How gratifying!


What does it take to save?

How much do you need to save in order to do a home renovation such as putting a tile floor into your house? Or to send your son or daughter to university? To pay for those orthodontic treatments your child needs?

All these were saving goals mentioned by members of the GEMA savings group. This program is sponsored by the Investing Hope Foundation (IHF) and facilitated by the Green Light Education Assistance program.

Members wrote 3 saving goals, each on a separate paper. The savings goals were then categorized. Goal categories were: Home improvements, travel, education of their children, purchases such as a camera, to pay for emergencies, to start a business.

Saving isn’t a habit for these women but nevertheless they have been doing it since June. There are 17 GEMA groups in Santander, most in rural areas. Membership ranges from 13 – 18 members per group. They meet once a month, but are required to save a minimum of 3000 pesos ($1.40 CAD) each week. From June to September they saved a total of 21,600,000 COP or roughly $10,000 CAD.

Rocio teaches them a method to calculate the amount they need to save on a monthly and weekly basis to reach their goal(s) using a spread sheet.

Materials such as a booklet on saving and calculators were provided by the IHF. They also provide training to Rocio who in turn, trains group facilitators. IHF also provides oversight to the program three times per year.

Members from Los Teres GEMA group getting down to work on their savings spread sheet.
This member was clear on her goal. She wanted to save 300,000 pesos ($140) in 6 months to purchase 20 chickens, which meant saving 12,500 ($5.80) per week.

Some members found the spread sheet exercise easy but for others it was a new experience. Many did not have a clear savings goal or know how much their goals would cost. BUT they helped each other and, in the end, everyone was able to do the exercise.

I was very curious to know how people with no saving culture managed to save. The two women above provide examples but the majority of the members save by spending less. I was astonished when they admitted that it was easy to save. However, they had not been saving on a regular basis. Instead they had been scraping money together by one means or the other to meet emergency expenses. Stressful!

It is our hope that the GEMA groups will encourage members to continue to save and to invest their savings in small business ventures. Our goal and their goal? To improve quality of life for themselves and their children.