During this last year 3,6 million of Colombians have lived in poverty conditions and 2,7 million in extreme poverty. The effects of the pandemic and of lockdowns have been felt particularly in big cities. Just in the capital Bogotá poor people are now 3,3 million. This rate is higher for two of the worst affected categories of the Colombian society: women and young people. Youth unemployment rate is currently about 23.9%, 3.4% more than in march 2020, and it is even higher among women.
These facts explain why young people have been the protagonists of social protests, which have exploded in response to the fiscal reform of last April, project that has been withdrawn in May. According to a lot of mayors that organized the protests, this reform would have worsened the most vulnerable part of the population in the country, in particular the most affected by Covid-19 pandemic.
These protests have then embraced other claims, like the opposition to the governmental health reform. It’s clear why the most significative mobilizations have been organized in the poorest neighborhoods of big cities, where the initial already difficult situation has worsened. These are areas in which illegal groups operate and young people are possible recruits. Moreover, the relationship with the police is always tenser because of abuses, illegal detentions and threats.
In the meanwhile, Bogotá has registered during these days the higher number of Covid-19 infections since the beginning of the emergency. Colombia is facing a dramatic third wave of the pandemic and since April deaths have increased and hospitals are increasing. The World Health Organization has registered more than 4.4 million infections from the 3rd of January 2020 and July 2021.
Fortunately, all the children involved in our project haven’t been infected, but they have to keep on learning at distance without proper technological tools. Unfortunately, the center “Hogar San Jeronimo” is still temporarily closed and we are waiting for news from the government in order to restart providing educational and training programs and psychosocial support to the most vulnerable children and teenagers in Tunja. Chierici Somaschi are keeping in touch with them during after-school and are distributing food and essential goods.
We are thankful for your precious support that helps us to keep on working for these students involved in the project!