Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena

by Fundacion Betania Juvenil
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Transforming The Lives of Children in Cartagena
Art with feet
Art with feet

Over the last two quarters, we served an average of 65 daily breakfasts to our children, totaling around 6500 meals year to date. We also had the opportunity to partner with a local organization to arrange for the donation of 70 school supply kits to further support our kids’ educational needs. On the Arts, we are thrilled to see the children's creativity taking off as we have conducted more than 20 artistic workshops including one about painting with the feet! Likewise, in the school reinforcement area, we conducted several workshops aimed at stimulating the children's creative writing while getting them exposed to creative reading.  Last but not least, we continued our visits to the children's homes to get a firsthand view of their other unsatisfied needs so we can help find ways to address them. This outreach also gives us the opportunity to talk with their mothers and continue encouraging them to continue their commitment to their kid’s well-being and education and to follow through with the programs that we have designed for their benefit.

On a separate note, we had the opportunity to give a refreshing touch to our facilities through painting and remodeling, as you can see in the pictures below, it is, without doubt, an environment that inspires creativity and fun.

As we often say, seeing the transformation of the lives of these kids is the fuel that strengthens our commitment to this project, we dream to see them one-day becoming doctors, nurses, lawyers, or engineers, and we want to help them all along their journey. It is also in great part due to your continuous support that we can keep serving them and we are so much grateful for that. 

Home Visit
Home Visit
Home Visit
Home Visit
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As 2021 drew to a close, we were able to finish the year by hosting multiple activities to continue supporting the kids that love and serve. We also received many warm demonstrations of gratitude both from the moms and kids, the perfect ingredients that add fuel to our commitment and determination to continue serving them for the years to come.

Breakfast club: In the last quarter of the year, we served 2600 breakfast meals accounting for a total of around 10.000 meals in the whole of 2021. Additionally, caregivers are actively encouraged to get involved in helping their kids eat and thus we seek to strengthen the parent-child affective bond.

School reinforcements: We conducted 10 school reinforcements sessions, to continue to strengthen the kids’ reading and writing skills as well as math. These are specially tailored to the kids that have fallen behind in their school learning, as we found that some of the kids have significant deficiencies in those core areas. In addition, we actively seek to raise awareness among their parents so they can also supplement their learning at home.

 The mom of one of our kids said:

“Thanks to Betania Juvenil, I learned how to read and write, add and subtract, and I have a lot of fun playing”

 

Early education: We conducted 4 workshops for kids 0 to 5 years old, aimed to give them an early introduction to reading, geometric figures, and the strengthening of the Mom – Child affective bond.

Christmas activities: We finished the year with 4 recreational activities aimed at making the children happy and at the same time, keeping them out of the street where they are exposed to gangs and violence. We even hosted a kids' cookie cooking activity!

Additionally, as part of the Christmas season, we hosted two gift-giving sessions one for kids to receive toys and another one for Moms to receive groceries. These activities have the goal of increasing the overall satisfaction of the Moms with the programs we offer and keeping them engaged long term. The kids were very playful and happy with the gift they received.

The Moms Craft Workshop: We conducted 2 additional Craft workshops under the topic of Christmas, where the Moms had the chance to come together for a time of fun, relaxation, and learning.

Family workshops and outreach: Through residential visits and phone calls, we reached out to the families involved in the program, to motivate them to continue their participation and to encourage them to keep up their commitment to their kids’ education at home. This outreach also allows us to identify critical unsatisfied needs in their homes and to reinforce the importance of raising their children in a nurturing and caring environment.

Another mom said:

“Thanks to Betania Juvenil for the activities, my kids enjoy them a lot, and can avoid the gangs in the streets.”

“I want to also thank you because as a result, they are learning more and more, and the truth is [chuckles], they have a lot of fun”

 

In addition to the outreach, we hosted two workshops where the moms had the opportunity to receive individualized support from a professional phycologist which help them in better navigating difficult situations that may impact the well-being of their family and the optimum development of their children.

A third mom said:

“Thanks for the psychology sessions, we learned a lot! Thank God and Betania Juvenil for your present and future support!”

 

We also want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your support over the last 3 years, and we hope to continue to enjoy your enduring partnership in the years to come. Thanks!

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Reading Club
Reading Club

Over the past 18 months, we had to adapt to an ever-evolving set of challenges introduced by the pandemic. However, this past quarter felt like going back to normalcy, as we had more opportunities to conduct our day-to-day activities without disruption whilst keeping up with the biosecurity measures to protect the health of our kids. Below is a summary of the main highlights for this period:

Breakfast club: During the last quarter we delivered over 4400 breakfast meals, accounting for 7.400 year to date and well over 15.000 since we started the project 32 months ago. This is a very important milestone and we wanted to take this chance to thank you once again for partnering with us.

School reinforcements: We conducted 18 sessions to reinforce kids learning in areas where we see deficiencies from their school progress, these topics included: teaching the basic reading skills of recognizing the alphabet letters and math operations such as addition, subtraction, and multiplication according to the kid's age groups. Most of these activities are delivered with the help of games so that kids can learn by playing which gives them extra motivation to engage in the learning process. We also provided 10 English sessions where kids can learn conversational skills by practicing everyday life words such as colors, animals, greetings, and others. For kids aged 5 and below, we conducted 6 workshops for early stimulation where they could learn to recognize geometric shapes. Additionally, this age group also benefits from a strengthening of the relationship with their mothers in the degree to which they take part in these activities.

Women empowering: We conducted 4 workshops for the mothers of the kids to continue developing skills in decoration and other manual activities with the objective of allowing them to create their own products and start small businesses.

As we mentioned in our previous report, we have the goal of building new facilities to keep up with the growing number of kids that are benefitting from our service, over the last 2+ years we went from 30 to almost 100 kids and our ambition is to serve 200. We shall report to you as we progress on this important milestone, so stay tuned! 

Breakfast Club
Breakfast Club
Early Beginnings
Early Beginnings
School Reinforcements
School Reinforcements
School Reinforcements (Cont.)
School Reinforcements (Cont.)
School Reinforcements (Cont.)
School Reinforcements (Cont.)
Moms Workshop
Moms Workshop
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We have very exciting news to announce, over the course of the last quarter we expanded our service to cover 74 kids, we distributed over 3000 meals and conducted 24 school reinforcement workshops, on top of all this, we are moving to a bigger facility with a capacity for 200 kids! If you want to know how all these happened, please read till the end.

 

Context

Given improvements in the public health situation during the last quarter, we were able to fully resume our in-person activities, which allow us to more directly attend to the urgent need for food reported by the families in the telephone follow-up that we were conducting. To do this, it was necessary to adjust the hours of operation, to bring different groups of kids at different times to comply with social distancing standards established by the health agencies.

Breakfast Club: In this quarter we distributed around 3,000 breakfasts to the kids, and added new beneficiaries completing a population of 74 children. We encouraged parents to take an active part in the breakfast club by accompanying their children whilst they eat. This is because the breakfast club is not just a space where food is given, but one where parents are stimulated to have expressions of affection and attention towards the kids, which is so necessary for integral development.

School Reinforcements: We continued working with kids that are falling behind in their studies, our approach is based on using pedagogical games to facilitate learning, with a special focus on filling the gaps in the children's basic reading skills. This approach has had a great reception among the children since they learn by playing and this motivates them. It is important to mention that the results of these activities will take time to be evident, as some of the children have major knowledge gaps which will take time to address. Nonetheless we already begin to observe small victories with children who begin to recognize letters and sounds.  We are also working on strategies to get more support from the parents in this area as their lack of engagement can be a challenge in some cases, which translates into difficulties in the children’s learning progress.

Creative reading workshops: These activities are carried out with all children from 5 to 12 years old, and they are conducted both in-person as well as virtually through videos in WhatsApp groups.  In these spaces, we encourage the children to read and to develop their creativity, hence using reading as a tool that strengthens learning and the development of their thought process. Through the reading of narrative texts, children have the opportunity to make their own artistic or literary productions. There have been 12 workshops in this period.

Women craft workshops: These activities aim to promote spaces of relaxation and skills development for the mothers, using crafts to develop their creativity, socialize among themselves, and recharge energies. From their feedback, we know that they really value these spaces as they see them not only to develop new skills but also as a form of relaxation and a break from their daily cares.

Family follow-ups: Through telephone calls and home visits, families are followed up on topics related to attendance to the breakfast club, the children’s academic progress, the promotion of responsible parenting practices, and the critical situations they have in terms of satisfaction of basic needs. Families are very satisfied when we visit them because they have an opportunity to talk about the difficulties that they face day by day. Bear in mind that the families we serve have very complex situations, with structural problems that are sometimes difficult to resolve, however, they find relief in expressing their emotions and concerns. These visits are made every 15 days and phone calls are conducted more frequently.

As we said in previous reports, our goal for 2021 is to expand our service to cover 100 children, one of the main requirements for this is to have a facility that is spacious enough to accommodate all those kids and given our current facility does not have the required space, we need to procure a new one. As you can imagine, acquiring and moving to a new facility is costly, but we are excited to tell you that your generosity has played a major role in providing us with those resources, and we are about to start the building procurement process as early as next month!

Acquiring a new facility is one thing, and we are grateful for your support so far in helping us achieve this; expanding the service to cover 26 additional kids and sustain the running cost is a completely different challenge, therefore, it is important as ever that you continue alongside us given us your continued support. This expansion phase feels like sailing to new horizons with many unknown and exciting possibilities, and with your help, we are sure it will result in the material transformation to the lives of many more kids in need.

Breakfast Club
Breakfast Club
Learning Letters
Learning Letters
Breakfast Participant
Breakfast Participant
Craft Workshop
Craft Workshop
Learning By Playing
Learning By Playing
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Many things have happened over the last few months and I am happy to share some highlights with you. At first, let me start by saying that the COVID situation in Cartagena has improved significantly in contrast with the rest of the country. This allowed us the opportunity to resume some activities with the kids in our facilities while keeping others in a remote fashion.

Although the public health situation has improved, we experienced a tropical storm that severely impacted some of the families we support, leaving some of their houses flooded or damaged. This forced us to act quickly to provide temporary shelter for around 7 families whilst we liaised with local workers to help repair their homes, and as after the storm, there is calm, for some of those families this meant having brand-new floors after such a dramatic experience as you can see in the pictures below.

In terms of the core activities, we did not have a shortage of them, below is a list of the main ones and the results they yielded:

  • Health and nutrition: We distributed around 108 liters of milk and 110 grocery supplies to the kids and their families, to help preserve their food security, an activity that left kids and parents alike feeling very grateful.
  • Fruitful utilization of the leisure time: To prevent kids from engaging in the drugs, gangs, and other threats that surround their neighborhood, we decided early on to design activities that help them better utilize their leisure time and that can serve as a replacement for the time they would have otherwise spent wandering in the streets where they are most at risk. To this end, we conducted a series of activities to promote reading habits in the kids and their families as well as promoting the development of artistic and creative skills.
  •  Encouraging responsible parenthood remains at the core of our belief that a child's life cannot substantially change without the support of their parents. This is the reason we conducted several visits to kids’ homes and talk to their parents to help them understand the importance of their children's mental wellbeing and reinforced previous notions to prevent domestic abuse.
  • On the education front, we noticed that some parents did not have the necessary knowledge to help their kids complete their remote schooling assignments, and hence some kids were falling behind on their already limited education. To tackle this, we redouble our efforts on school reinforcements classes with the children most at risk and doing so by gathering small groups of kids (to allow for social distance rules to be kept) multiple times a week. The results were inspiring as the kids learning improved and their parents were grateful and happy for the support they received.

Finally, other activities included supplying Christmas gifts and school supplies for the new school year starting in January. Given all this positive news and the fact that COVID seems to be gradually receding from Cartagena, we are planning to fully resume our on-premises activities in the month of March, this means bringing back the breakfast club every day before school which is so key for our kids’ physical development. In addition, we are also extending the program to include 30 additional kids (for a total of 100!). We would love to have your continued support during this reopening and expansion phase to continue transforming the lives of 100 children in Cartagena.

Emergency relief.
Emergency relief.
School supplies.
School supplies.
School reinforcements.
School reinforcements.
Food distribution.
Food distribution.
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Organization Information

Fundacion Betania Juvenil

Location: Cartagena, Bolivar - Colombia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @fundacionbetan1
Project Leader:
Jaime Baldiris
Cartagena, Bolivar Colombia
$54,575 raised of $111,062 goal
 
170 donations
$56,487 to go
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