Jul 6, 2020

Transforming Lives Amid COVID19

Distributing Food Stamps
Distributing Food Stamps

COVID19 has brought enormous challenges to communities around the globe and ours have not been the exception. In Cartagena, where we operate, the cases of COVID19 have been on the rise for the past week at a pace that seems out of control. Although this situation does impact the way we work and serve the kids, it by no means stops us from getting creative and raise to the challenge for the benefit of our children. Below is a recount of some extraordinary steps that the team in the fields took to continue transforming the lives of our kids amid COVID19.

Food stamps: First, let me start by describing the environment in which we operated in the last three months. 1) We could not continue gathering the kids in our facilities for food and activities as there was a government order in place that prohibited public gatherings of any size. 2)  Buying food in large quantities for later distribution became infeasible due to the unavailability of certain food products. 3) We knew that giving cash directly to the families wouldn’t be prudent as it is well known that some adults in those families may misuse the resources for alcohol abuse at the expense of the kids’ food. The challenge was dire, but we rise to the occasion. With a bit of creativity, we found a simple solution that worked very well: food stamps! Those can be bought in the grocery stores and be given to the families for them to exchange them for food (about 10 days’ worth of food supplies per stamp). Moreover, we were able to set the food stamps in a way that restricted them to be used for food only, and therefore mitigated the risk of misuse.

Continued learning: Food is one part of the problem; the other challenge was on how to keep the communication with the kids and their families. For this, we also have to use our ingenuity, given that most moms don’t have access to communication platforms due to limited internet access, we loaded their phones with internet packages for us to be able to reach them and continue given them support. We even managed to send online resources for the kids to continue their English learning process!

 
Before COVID19: Below are some of the activities that we carried out before the COVID pandemic hit our city.

Child abuse prevention training: We trained the moms to identify and prevent a situation that may put their kids at risk of sexual abuse.

Artistic activities: We facilitated spaces and resources for the kids to develop their artistic skills.

Learning English: We worked hard at motivating and equipping the kids to learn English as a second language. We believe that this is a powerful tool that can open doors for them in the long term.

Reading class: Promoting good reading habits leveraging our volunteers and newly donated learning resources.

COVID19 prevention training: Before COVID19 hit our city, we spent time with the moms educating them on preventive measures such as the correct way to washing the hands.

With a bit of creativity and a lot of love, we managed to serve our kids during exceptionally challenging times. We would not be able to do all of this without you, and we are immensely grateful for your partnership.  Now, even more than ever before, your contributions are making a substantial difference in our kids and their families. Please keep supporting us during this health crisis which affected the poor and the needy the most.

Child Abuse Prevention Training
Child Abuse Prevention Training
Artistic Activities
Artistic Activities
English Learning
English Learning
Creative Reading
Creative Reading
COVID19 Prevention Training
COVID19 Prevention Training
Mar 2, 2020

First Anniversary - The work continues

Performing
Performing

A new year has come and we are back serving the kids after a short Christmas break. We spent the last part of the year reflecting on all we have learned and how we will apply this to our vision for 2020. In February, we reached a very important milestone: our first anniversary. Your support has been an important factor that has enabled us to reach this point. In addition, to continue giving daily breakfast to 70 kids (20 more than last year), we also conducted the following activities since our last report:

School supplies: In Colombia, the school year starts in January, and this is a time with many parents struggle to provide school supplies for their kids. We are aware of this problem and wanted to help by providing 67 of our children with full sets of supplies which included notebooks, pens, pencils, and bags.

Music workshop: the children embarked on training for a musical for a very special occasion. This activity was helpful to develop the kid's artistic talent and to overcome shyness. It took discipline and effort, but it was very well worth it.

Fundraising concert: We invited an international artist to perform to an audience of about 700 people to help us raise funds for the new year. The kids had a chance to showcase their talent as well with a very moving performance (see the first picture of the report).

Nutritional screening: We brought in a nutritionist to perform nutritional screening to 65 children. As we did one year ago, the goal was to reassess how the kids are progressing in terms of nutrition and which ones are still at risk. The results were very encouraging showing that 60% of the kids under 5 years present a proper weight and height whereas for those above 5 years the proportion is around 50%. For the rest of the kids that don't have an ideal weight and height, we will be increasing our work with them to help them fight the malnutrition.  Among the actions we have identified are:

  • Increase their breakfast portion.
  • Provide them with special food supplies that they can take to the school or house.
  • Help the family with goods to improve the quality of food at home.
  • Provide vitamin supplements to assist nutritional recovery.

Medical assessment: In addition to the nutritional screening, we also conducted medical assessments to identify potential illnesses that are common in children and to follow up with the medical authorities to make sure they receive proper treatment.

Finally, we conducted surveys to understand how the children and the parents feel about our work for them, the results were remarkable with the vast majority of the kids and parent indicating that they feel happy and helped. This is a great encouragement for us and we would love to continue having your support to make even more progress in transforming the lives of those children. 

School Supplies
School Supplies
Nutritional screening
Nutritional screening
Medical assessment
Medical assessment
Dec 4, 2019

Almost One Year Transforming Lives

Just Joy!
Just Joy!

Dear Friends,

About 1 year ago, a group of close friends and I started working on making a reality our vision for transforming the lives of children in my hometown Cartagena. Those kids are vulnerable to drugs, gangs, domestic violence, malnutrition, and many other threats. The challenge was big, but with your support, we were able to get started.

In early February, we finalized the adequation of a facility and started providing breakfast to 50 kids every weekday. Since then, we have distributed over 6900 meals! This has brought very gratifying moments to all of us involved, a very special one was when a father in tears said: 

“If it wasn’t for you, my kid would be going hungry to school today”

I trust you experience the same fulfillment I do by knowing that your contributions can make such an impact. This is not all, the team is convinced that to make a life long-lasting transformation on those kids, we need to tackle their environment, the relationship with their parents, hygiene & education. As a result, we have conducted several activities throughout the year and found fascinating results, which you can see below:

  • Music and Arts days
  • Entertainment days include going out for football, puppet shows and playing in the best playgrounds of the city!
  • Hygiene and dental health lessons

One of our most recent sessions consisted of using Augmented Reality and Games as a Tool to Discover Skills.

But we don't want to stop with the kids, we also identified a great need of education and training in the mothers, and soon started a program for empowering women through workshops where they can learn how to avoid abusing the kids and also how to make products to generate income, here is a video where you can see this in action Empowering Woman Through Life Skills. The moms have expressed immense gratitude for multiple reasons. First, their relationship with the kids improves as they recur more to talking rather than physical violence; second, they really enjoy the fellowship with the other moms; third, they learn valuable skills to produce income. In fact, 3 moms already started commercializing food-based products.

 Altogether, the last 10 months have been plenty of challenges, excitement, and satisfaction. We were fortunate to have you onboard supporting us along the way. For the year ahead, we have the vision to expand the facilities to be able to reach out to a total of 200 kids, we don't want to turn away any kid that touches our doors, and we need your continued support keep making a long-lasting impact in the lives of those children. Here are two easy ways in which you can help us further: 

  1. A monthly contribution of at least 20 USD, that will help us cover the monthly cost for one kid
  2. Alternatively, you can also contribute by providing a point-time donation now which we will equally appreciate. All donations can be done here.

Thank you again for the continued support, it means so much for the kids and their families. Looking forward to keeping partnering with you and we wish that you may have a merry Christmas.

Playground Fun
Playground Fun
Women Life Skills
Women Life Skills
Puppet Show
Puppet Show
Dental Health
Dental Health
Music Day
Music Day
Arts Day
Arts Day
Building Family Relationships
Building Family Relationships
 
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