Program improves quality of life for young girls and boys in rural Colombia
For children in the mountainous village of La Marina, in Tuluá, Colombia, relating to their peers and their family environment can be difficult. An increase in gender-based violence and the presence of structural machismo is negatively impacting their quality of life. The rural community is also vulnerable to recurring armed conflict.
With a lack of programs for children in the region, Cuso International volunteer Adriana Montes and local organization the Fundación Victoria Elena created the “Ven y te cuento” program. The program works to strengthen social skills and promote self-confidence and empowerment for girls and boys through reading, while also learning about gender quality, positive masculinity, and human rights.
Twenty-two girls and 10 boys between 8 and 10 years old participated in the program. Over six months, workshops allowed the children to express their ideas and feelings, while helping reduce stress and anxiety. The children participating seemed to be calmer, more compassionate, and empathetic.
This includes eight-year-old Juan Manuel Chausa. When he started the program, Adriana remembers him showing aggressive behaviour, a rebellious attitude, and episodes of anger towards his classmates.
“Juan Manuel participated in the programme and today he is a child who has learned to transform his episodes of anger and is conciliatory and cheerful in the classroom. His teachers and himself recognise his change of attitude,” she said.
Seeing the children’s transformation, honesty, and active participation stands out to Adriana and she hopes the community can take part in similar programs in the future.
“I learned that, in the processes of training and accompanying minors, it is very important to establish links of empathy and dialogue in order to carry out successful outcomes.”
Adriana learned about the program through discussions with the program’s creator Beatriz Eugenia Vera. Earlier attempts to implement the project were challenging because of a lack of resources. But Adriana’s interest and passion for the project persevered.
“Adriana did not stay still and continued thinking about how else the Foundation could adopt the program. It was at that moment that it occurred to her to be the bridge between Cuso International and the Fundación Victoria Elena in order to obtain the sponsorship,” said Beatriz.
“Infinite gratitude to Cuso International, Fundación Victoria Elena, and of course, to Adriana Montes Sanchez for making possible spaces of empowerment and transformation in our children.”
A second phase of the program is planned, which would include working closely with parents to ensure the learnings are also embedded within their home life.
“If you support Cuso International, you are part of the construction of a great social fabric that benefits thousands of people around the world. You are supporting a network of development workers who give their knowledge to build a more supportive and equitable world, with people trained to face the challenges of everyday life. Supporting Cuso International means betting on a better future”.
The program is part of Cuso International’s Sharing Canadian Expertise for Inclusive Development and Gender Equality (SHARE) program. Initiated in 2020 and funded by Global Affairs Canada, the project helps improve the economic and/or social well-being of marginalized and vulnerable people.
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