Saturday, September 12, 2015

Step Into My World: Colombia Andean Region

Vamos a visitar Colombia!

Compassion works in two distinct regions in Colombia, the Andean region and the coastal region. The Andes Mountains take up so much space in Colombia, so many, many families live in this area. I have three Compassion kids in Colombia and they all live in cities near the Andes.

Caleb, Lina, & Daniel

Lina lives in the city of Cali and Caleb and Daniel both attend the same project, which is located in the city of Villavicencio. I couldn't find a good map that showed both the mountains and the cities that my kids live in, so I decided to stick with the map that you can clearly see the Andes Mountains in. 

Families that live the mountainous region are desperately poor. In the past, many men were supporting their families by working for the Colombian drug cartels. While this was, obviously, not a great job, it did provide for families. Colombia made huge strides and was able to completely break down the drug cartels. While this is wonderful for the country, overall, it left many men unemployed, unable to support their families. Most of these families migrated to the big cities in search of jobs, but have been unable to find work. This caused many city slums to sprout up, where conditions are crowded, dirty, and homes are made of scrap wood and other materials found in the city dumps. 

Homes in the slums are often prone to flooding, as water comes from the sewers in the big cities and ends up in the slums surrounding the city. Many homes are built on stilts to accommodate this flooding. Planks are set up to serve as "streets" between the homes, to allow people to travel from place to place. Sadly, despite all of the water around, none of it is safe to drink. The task of collecting clean water often falls to the children in the family. 

With a lack of clean water and the presence of stagnant water surrounding their homes, children are often at risk of catching diseases caused by waterborne parasites or disease caused by mosquitoes, such as malaria and dengue fever, as mosquitoes are drawn to stagnant water. Compassion is helping their assisted children avoid these diseases by teaching them about basic hygiene, such as handwashing and sleeping under a bed net at night. 

Education in Colombia can really be hit-or-miss. The best education, that prepares children for the future, can be received in private schools. However, these schools are too expensive for poor families to afford. Instead, these families have to settle for a public school education that they know is not really helping their children learn. It's not secret that the public schools are overcrowded, underfunded, and offer very few learning materials to their children. Compassion is helping these children to fill in the gaps in their education. The tutors at the Compassion projects teach children a variety of important lessons that will help them in the future. 

The neighborhoods that the children, in this region, live in are often dangerous to play in. Children playing on the streets can often be lured into gangs and illegal activities. Thankfully, Compassion provides the children with a safe place to play, without the fear of gangs. It's a place for the kids to just be kids and get to know each other, socially and emotionally. 

The Compassion projects in the Andean region have the following prayer requests for their sponsors: 

- Pray that God will provide and care for children who have been abandoned by their fathers. 

- Pray that God will provide jobs for the many parents who are unemployed. 

- Pray that God will provide a way for children and caregivers who are sick to be treated for their medical needs, in spite of lack of health facilities. 

I want to share these two children with you. They are both from the Andean region in Colombia and they are both waiting for a loving sponsor. 

This sweet girl is Yoasy. She is 5 years old, but will be turning 6 on September 19th. Yoasy lives with her father, mother, and 5 siblings. Her father is only sometimes employed and her mother is unemployed. Yoasy's chores include running errands and cleaning. For fun, she enjoys playing with dolls, running, and playing group games. She is not yet in school, but will start soon. 

She has been waiting 254 days for a sponsor!

This handsome, young man is Deyber. He is 12 years old and his birthday is November 1st. He lives with his father and 3 siblings. He has no mother-figure in his life. Deyber helps at home by making beds, running errands, and cleaning. For fun, he likes playing soccer, art, and riding a bike. He attends middle school and has average performance. 

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