Help 2,000 at-risk youth in Colombia build peace

 
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This winter has started out to be one of our most exciting times here at the Solidarity Foundation of the Visitacion. Two major events took place over the past few months, along with the continuation of our daily duties that provide the children and youths of our communities with the opportunity to better themselves and those around them.

First, we had a gift exchange event for our mentors and the kids they sponsor. The beaming smiles on the faces of the children when they saw their mentors' open arms for hugs and a new toy can't be described in words. Most of them face hard times around the holidays, with parents who struggle to provide consistent meals, let alone gifts on Christmas. So, it is a pretty touching moment when their joy can be restored. For those of you who are interested in our mentor aka 'padrino' program. Please visit our website at www.fundavisitacion.org

Another important event that took place was our drive for rain boots for the indigenous children in Dabeiba, Antioquia. The conditions where these children are from can be more volatile because of the lack of infrastructure in this rural part of Colombia. For this reason, providing all the children with proper rain boots so they can walk to school without risk of injury or infection is extremely important. With this drive, we were able to adequately provide the children in Dabeiba with their very own brand new rain boots. Please see pictures for more detail!

We would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the great work you donors do for us and these children in need. We couldn't do this Godly work without you. Please visit our website for more pictures and information on how you and your friends,social network, even families can help cause change in Colombia.

Until next time, happy new year! 

Hello to all our supporters out there!

The past few months at FSV have been filled with excitement as we continue our struggle, fighting for the youths of our city, trying our best to prevent the abuse of drugs, risky sexual behavior, and keep them from getting recruited by armed groups that still fight for control over neighborhoods in or close to where they live.

However, if there is one thing we have learned over the years, knowing a child's name and actively trying to include them in activities that promote the constructive use of free time, all the while maintaining a simple important goal: making the child feel loved-all of these are key ingredientes to preventing violence in our city and laying the foundation for a better future, with our young ones receiving the type of recreational education that will allow them to see the benefits of being a responsable citizen in their community, city, and country.

This past month we did a number of cultural outings and creative activities that allowed the kids to have a lot of fun and learn new things. First, all four centers visited a new organic farm, where the kids learned how farmers do their job in planting, growing, and picking healthy fruits and vegetables. They also learned how important it is to include these healthy foods in their daily diet.

We also had a new outdoor activities including playing soccer and basketball, along with some other fun games on blacktop that our teachers and playcenter professionals run. Sometimes the competition gets intense, but we allow the kids to expell the necessary energy and at the same time teach sportsmanship, a necessary thing for teaching them the lifelong important skill of teamwork.

That's it for now, but it the coming months we will report back with more stories of how your donations are making a difference in the lives of the youths of Medellin and paving the way for a brighter and happier future for them.

Thanks again, we couldn't do this without you all!

Since our last report in March, our prevention of violence and peace building program has been the cause of positive change in the barrios of Medellin. This semester has accounted for the most registered participants to date! So, we know more youths are catching wind of the program and deciding to give it a try, which is a good thing because once they start, they usually stay with us until high school. This has to do with the positive change they see in their lives, resulting from the new creative skills they build, along with the love and support they receive from our staff.

Over these past few months, there were some major activities that all four youth centers participated in. First, in preparation for the upcoming World Cup, we had a soccer tournament with mutiple teams from each youth center participating. This Saturday we will be having the championship game between the teams El Rojo from the Palermo youth center and Los Tigres from the Picacho youth center.

Also, we saw our youths take great interest in our urban garden project, with each youth center now seeing the healthy fruits and vegetables their gardens are producing. Mmm, delicious!

Apart from those two special projects, the youths continue to participate in the regular activities of open play, board games, reading, creative writing, theatre, dance workshops, among other activities; all with the main goal of stimulating their minds and bodies, allowing for the constructive use of free time in order to build resiliente attitudes towards violence and an affinity towards peaceful coexistence.

Please stay tuned for more updates as we send pictures and more reports. We want to thank all our supporters for the donations and time they devote to this program. Without you, we wouldn't be able to implement these positive changes in these vulnerable youths' lives. 

Happy beginning of summer for all! Enjoy the sun and warmer weather!

The past two months could have been relatively relaxed in terms of planned activities at our youth centers, due to the winter break from school that usually lasts from the end of December until the end of February. Although the ludotecas aren't officially in session during these months, this year we offered an alternative break to our beneficiaries that desired to participate.

In January and February of 2014, we served around 320 beneficiaries; the children and youths from the barrios surrouding our four youth centers. Our goal was to promote good habits in the constructive use of free time through recreational and educational activities, helping diminish idle and delinquent behavior. Based on the smiles and positive energy generated over the past two months (see pictures below), I think it's safe to say we succeeded.

Although it's winter, the weather in Colombia allows for lots of outdoor fun. Over the past two months, our youth centers focused on outdoor and environmental activities, ranging from sports, to trips to local parks, excursions to pools, and the simple act of playing outside in the fresh air!

Another line of focus was awareness and care for the environment. We taught the children how to make small gardens with recycled plastic containers and bottles, along with field trips to local ecological reserves and farms. All these activities help to plant a seed in the minds of these young persons of how important sustainability is, not just in terms of natural resources, but relationships with our neighbors, communities, and rest of the world.

Again, it has to be said that all these activities wouldn't be possible without the aid from our generous donors and supporters like yourselves. We want to thank you for your continued support and let you know that we can only continue to generate positive impact with your help!

Finally, we want to inform you of the first fundraising campaign for FSV in 2014 on GlobalGiving, coming up over the next month. In continuation with our environmental theme, we are going to install and maintain organic farms on four green spaces on the property of the Foundation, not being used for anything. They will help provide food security for our youth centers, providing healthy food from seed to plate to our beneficiaries, along with selling surplus produce in order to help cover program costs.

Please keep us in mind and we hope that you will make the decision to donate over the next two months in order to help continue this project on GlobalGiving!

Donate here!:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/help-2000-youth-in-colombia-build-peace/

Merry Christmas! Or better said, Feliz Navidad!

For our final report of 2013, we would like to report that the Solidarity Foundation of the Visitacion has enjoyed a year full of accomplishments, everything from more children and youths enrolling in our violence prevention programs to landing this partnership with GlobalGiving, allowing us to spread our mission globally. 

Our four youth centers have been extremely busy, preparing for the end of the semester and the artistic exhibitions that accompany that process. You see, all your support helps go to programs like this, and these end of the year shows help show what these youths have learned. They spend hours practicing and making constructive use of free time, instead of being out on the streets after school. As you'll see in the attached You tube videos, not only are they developing creative skills, they are gaining a sense of pride- all of which contributes to the development of resilient attitudes towards violence and delinquent behavior. 

All through December, these groups of talented young people are putting on performances in the name of peace and transforming their neighborhoods for the better. Through dance, music, reading, and acting, our young people are changing the social landscape of Medellin through the creation of values in themselves and those around them.

There is nothing like seeing a child discover enjoyment in a talent or activity. All the smiles flying around today are proof of that.

Once again, thanks to all our donors and supporters for making this possible and make sure to check out our Facebook page.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from sunny Colombia. We'll see you in 2014!

-William Winters

Assistant Project Leader

Links:

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Project Leader

Francisco Beltran

Medellin, Antioquia Colombia

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