Help Eradicate Child Labor in Colombia

 
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Andres is now a proffesional soccer player
Andres is now a proffesional soccer player

Colombia is a soccer country. Here, we live soccer, we breathe soccer, we even ‘eat’ soccer when we scream in from of the TV every time our team plays. Since we are little, our parents, especially our dads, teach us about the importance of the ‘futbol’ (it’s how we call it) in the Colombian culture. We learned how to see it, how to understand it and, of course, how to play it.

Many children in our country dream about being a professional ‘futbol’ player to overcome their difficulties and, maybe become one day like James Rodriguez, the superstar who is making us all cry, scream and feel together the passion of the national sport.  And one thing is truth: being a professional ‘futbol’ player is always better than work when you are still a child.

In Juntos Construyendo Futuro we are sure of that and for that one and other many reasons (as keep the body healthy and become committed to something) we encourage kids and teens  that are at risk of being put to work or leaving school to see in the sports a good way to spend their free time.

During these months we had four soccer championships in different neighborhoods of Bogotá. 248 children participated and strengthened their sports skills, teamwork, respect and social skills while they had fun. Meanwhile, in Valledupar, a city in the north of Colombia, 120 girls and boys were playing ‘futbol’ after school to spend their free and internalize rules to live in society and help preserve the environment, all this THANKS TO YOU!

After every championship, the players were awarded for the effort and participation. They are always very excited to get a prize, even if they didn’t win. The biggest reward is witness their faces full of happiness and joy and, time ahead, seeing them making their dreams come true.

Andres was a boy at risk from Cartagena who, with your help, made posiible his dream of develop a professional career in ‘futbol’. Now, after using his free time to train and play, he is part of the junior players team of Club Deportivo Real Cartagena, the soccer team of his city.

Your donations are responsible for lots of smiles here in Colombia, not just the kids’ but their families’ too. We are hosting workshops with more than 1600 families all year long to teach them, though recreation activities about family communication, quality of education and cultural transformation. That way we can reach together the eradication of child labor in the country.

Thank you again for your support!

Playing a soccer match in Bogota
Playing a soccer match in Bogota
They won against everything!
They won against everything!
The prizes, one for everyone
The prizes, one for everyone
Championship means friendship too
Championship means friendship too
Participants to the tournament show their medal
Participants to the tournament show their medal

In our day to day work we use sports and the arts to promote healthy use of free time in children and adolescents that are risk of being put to work or leaving school. Through this after school activities we show both the students and their family the importance of education, sports and the art, and how they can transform their future.

In the at-risk neighborhood of Cuidad Bolivar in the outskirts of Bogota and thanks to your generosity and support, a local Taekwondo Tournament took place with little representatives from 3 local schools. These 3 institutions were selected based on the children's performance on their weekly workshops. This wonderful opportunity gave children the opportunity to interact with other martial arts students from their community promoted healthy competition and more importantly have fun.

The competitors also had activities reflecting on the importance of exercise, commitment, respect and discipline. At the end of the tournament everyone got a personalize medal, highlighting their best qualities as competitors and human beings, and new belts for reaching their corresponding new levels, highlighting their good behavior and constant training.

Meanwhile, thanks to your generous donations,  at the other side of Colombia, in the pacific region of Cesar everything was song and dance aimed to promote respect, self-esteem and  keep boys and girls away from street work. 30 boys and girls belonging to the Culture Club of the local school participated in the talent show and artistic demonstration entitles “The Dances of My Region”

The children and teens have been attending the dance lessons weekly for the past year, as a way to use their free time in a healthy way and developing their abilities and talents. 6 different choreographies were created by different group of students with a very special theme: “Respeting our bodies and respecting women”. Through dance the children and teens presented their work to the entire academic communities and their parents, strengthening their team work abilities, responsibility and respect.

The population were this school is located has some difficulty with children working on the street and this program allow them to be educated and protected about their right and ultimately keep them away from dangerous child labor. The dances were a way to raise awareness on the importance of respecting and protecting their bodies, and the presentation and talent show help they strengthen their self-esteem and sense of worth.

We invite you to share our work and tell your family and friends that they can also help us transform life opportunities for thousands of children in Colombia

 

A beautiful student shows her make-up for the show
A beautiful student shows her make-up for the show
Everyone got a medal!
Everyone got a medal!
So much beautiful dance!
So much beautiful dance!
Taekwondo is los of fun!
Taekwondo is los of fun!
We
We're so proud!

Our organization is committed to eradicate child labor by creating healthy alternatives for children and youth to spend their time after school and educate their families about the important of education and the dangers of children working.

Your generous donations allow us to offer children and teens a variety of sports, academic and artistic activities, that enables them to develop their talents and achieve their full potential. The 19 different programs we offer with your help, allow children and teens to build their self-esteem, confidence and goals for the future, keeping them away from working in often dangerous conditions, but more importantly it shows their families the importance of education and a healthy use of free time.

The children and youth that participate in these programs are little heroes that have often survived terrible conditions and have difficult conditions at home. So it warms our hearts to tell stories like Diana’s.

Diana is a teenager is part of our sports program in Bogota; she is an avid taekwondo students and thanks to her commitment and hard work, she earned a spot to compete in a worldwide Taekwondo event called, "Open of the Americas" and later became the all-around “under 55 kilos” champion! Diana beat over 20 contenders from Latin American countries and the United States.

Diana is very proud of herself and expresses that she would not had made it without the support of her family, team and trainer, Gustavo. In her own words “Having the opportunity to study Taekwondo change my life and the way I look at the world”

Her win and the excitement of the competition have motivated children and youth in the program to continue practicing sports. She is living proof that a great use of free time to develop talents and passions can change lives and improve the physical and psychological growth of vulnerable children.

Thanks to your generous donations, we can continue supporting children like Diana, providing them with tools that allow them to build their future.

Diana and trainer! Hard work comes with rewards!
Diana and trainer! Hard work comes with rewards!
She takes it very seriously! Wow!
She takes it very seriously! Wow!

Links:

In Medellin, kids were starstruck by Pinoccio!
In Medellin, kids were starstruck by Pinoccio!

Our organizations has been creating child labor eradication efforts for almost 10 years, we have programs around 19 municipalities in Colombia were we create academic and extracurricular activities for children to make healthy and productive use of their free time attending activities that range from capoeira, soccer to painting and break dancing. We also have the mission to educate their families and the community about the importance of eradicating child labor.

This past 12th of June, we commemoratedWorld Day Against Child Labor. This is a key day for our organizations because it represents the opportunity to approach communities and create awareness about the importance of education and keeping children and youth away from child labor. Our organization strives every day to give children the opportunity to have a life of learning, healthy development and happiness and informing the community about this problem is a fundamental step in eradicating the attitudes that foment the hiring of children.

With your generosity and the help of our allies, this month we worked hard to create awareness about the places and events where children are employed. We enlisted the help of local governments and civil society to create compromises to stop the abuses.

One of our biggest celebration and triumphs over child labor, happened in Monteria, a small town located on the Pacific coast of Colombia, where children and adolescents are usually forced to work during the local livestock fair- the biggest economic and commercial event of the region-.

However, this years and thanks to your generous help, children were instead celebrated in a grand “Children’s parade” where the dance group from the child labor eradication extracurricular program, Proniño- formed by children from three allied schools-, performed a traditional dance, showing off their moves to the beat of typical Colombian music, wearing big and colorful dresses!

It was a wonderful experience, the children enlivened the evening with their dances and energy in the streets of Monteria and left a meaningful message to their communities, about the importance of eradicating child labor, and making sure that everyone remembered their smiley faces and how it was important to protect their opportunities and dreams.

In 19 municipalities across Colombia from the coastal region to the mountain, School kits supplies, marches, mime shows, soccer games, and even dance competitions were held to create awareness in families, business oweners and the community at large.

Thanks to your donations, Juntos Construyendo Futuro was able to plan and  take to fruition activities across Colombia, where children had fun, learned about their rights, showed of their talents and the importance of protecting their dreams! We can’t wait to have more activities like these soon! For us the most important thing is to see how smile doing what they love and you can be part of this incredible project sharing and donating! 

People were surprised by the kid
People were surprised by the kid's dance moves.
Smiley, happy kids with their new school kits!
Smiley, happy kids with their new school kits!
Such beautiful traditional dresses!
Such beautiful traditional dresses!

Links:

A child in a typical job at the market place
A child in a typical job at the market place

Our organization reaches many regions in Colombia. In one of the most densely populated cities in the country, Medellin, we have found some of the worst cases of child labor in major marketplaces, where produce, meat and grains are sold in bulk at retail prices. Children as young as 7 years old are often employed to move grain sacks or heavy boxes of vegetables. They’re also found carrying messages and money from one stand to the next and looking out for cars in the often dangerous parking lots.

In these specific and problematic places, such as the Plaza Minorista, our organization has devised strategies to turn them into Child Labor Free Territories (CLFT). This includes extensive efforts to create awareness of the risks and consequences of employing children within the community of merchants, peddlers, marketplace employees and security guards, thus discouraging them from bringing children into their work environment. During this process a series of pictures depicting everyday life at the marketplace and the Child Labor Free Territories awareness process, were taken to create a calendar that would serve as a reminder for the community to uphold their promise to not employ children.

After finishing the first phase of the strategy in March, the CLFT 2014–2015 calendar was given to the marketplace’s community. To receive the calendar, partakers –merchants, peddlers, marketplace employees and security guards-, were part of a “reach-for-the-star” activity, where they answered questions related to their knowledge and perception about child labor in the retail marketplace.

Furthermore, we organized a community breakfast with the managers and some marketplace leaders where we shared the results of the first phase of the child labor eradication program. We also encouraged a dialogue with the attendees so they could share their perspectives about the topic and propositions for the second phase of the intervention.

This event was part of a process to turn the marketplace into a child labor free zone a reward for a community that has manifested their support for our organization’s work and the prospect of a better and safer workplace for all.

The colorful market place the sad reality
The colorful market place the sad reality
Children working a reality we need to change
Children working a reality we need to change
Children should smile while they play not work
Children should smile while they play not work
The marketplace needs to become child-labor-free
The marketplace needs to become child-labor-free
The awareness breakfast meeting!
The awareness breakfast meeting!

Links:

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Project Leader

Alba Inés Zapata Gálvez

Bogota, Antioquia Colombia

Where is this project located?

Map of Help Eradicate Child Labor in Colombia