In October 2010, Sense the World went on our first donation trip to Colombia. We went to Medellin and donated to a school for homeless children in the city. You may not know that Colombia has changed dramatically over the last decade. The cities are much safer now and Colombia has infrastructure that much of South America does not have. For example, drinking water is safe and all children attend school. And even though the middle class is growing, poverty is still a problem for many people. Medellin is a beautiful city with amazing views and a wonderful public transportation system, yet many children live on the streets.
Although Sense the World usually tries to donate is small villages,our contact in Colombia, Paula, had connections at Programa de Cobertura Educativa in the city. Before we visited the city, Paula and her friend, Gloria, took us shopping.
Homeless children may stay at the school from 7 am to 5 pm, but since the children are as young as 4 years old, they are not in classes the whole time. The school encourages the children to stay all day so they are not on the streets, but with little for the children to do, it is hard to convince them to stay. Many street children end up addicted to drugs without these programs. Here we are with the Principal of the School.
Sense the World had a unique opportunity to provide a special place for these children to spend their after-school hours. Along with the usual Sense the World goods like toothbrushes, vitamins and school supplies, we provided a play room for the school. This included books, games, play musical instruments and toys for the children. Below you can see the sad state of the room before we arrived. The teacher told us that the few games they had were missing most of the pieces.
The joy on the children's faces was unforgettable. The principle reminded us that as a homeless child, they are forced to grow up so quickly, and this is one of the few places where they can really be kids. They were thrilled to see the toys!
The children first are fed breakfast when they arrive at school in the morning, you can see them eating their crackers, but soon the children started coming up to the play room. When most of the young children were there the principal asked them who were new to the school and one little boy pointed at Greg and Kirsten and shouted "Los Gringos!!!" It was hilarious! After the children were able to check out the toys for awhile, talk to us and play a little, the principal tried to get them to their classes, but we're guessing the teachers had their hands full keeping the attention that morning!