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A YEAR IN

COLOMB09IA SUMMARY REPORT

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GOOD REASONS why Plan works in Colombia

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by the El Niño and La Niña phenomena. Economy: According to International Monetary Fund estimates, in 2007 Colombia’s nominal GDP was US$202.6 billion (37th in the world and fourth in South America). GDP per capita stands at $7,968, placing Colombia 82nd in the world. However, in practice this is relatively unevenly distributed among the population, and, in common with much of Latin

America, Colombia scores poorly according to the Gini coefficient, with UN figures placing it 119th out of 126 countries. In 2003 the richest 20% of the population had a 62.7% share of income/ consumption and the poorest 20% just 2.5%. 17.8% of Colombians live on less than $2 a day.

“Plan has assisted thousands of families and communities in building their own development in situations of extreme poverty and the hostilities of war. We have achieved this with a highly committed team, participative communities, and responsive public officials.” – Gabriela Bucher, Plan’s Country Director


A YEAR IN

COLOMBI09A SUMMARY REPORT

FOCUS ON: WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE Young people are particularly affected by the widespread violence in Colombia. Many are displaced by conflict, involved with drugs, in gangs, or recruited into the militia. Sexual exploitation, including prostitution, is a major problem. Plan promotes young people’s rights, and supports them to develop their potential. We encourage their involvement in the development of their communities and enable them to make their voices heard through media projects such as magazines and radio programs.

THE TRAVELLING WAGON

C Students discuss growing up during a learning to live workshop

The Bigger Picture

Plan is working with children, families and whole communities to address the problems that Colombia faces. This report can only tell a small part of that story. As a further insight, last year we also: • Improved standards of education by providing training for 1401 teachers in 393 communities, and building or repairing 27 schools • Protected children from water-borne diseases like diarrhoea by constructing or upgrading 1291 water points in 23 communities, and 248 latrines in 14 communities • Set up 177 model home and community vegetable gardens to improve nutrition for displaced children, and training parents on nutrition and food preparation • Saw major national campaigns raise awareness and influenced public policy on children’s rights, focussing on sexual abuse and child prostitution. Your support as a sponsor is crucial to achieving these positive results. So on behalf of the communities, partner organisations, and most of all the children we work with – thank you!

“My family’s relationships have improved 100%, and my parents like what I do.” To learn more about Plan’s work in Colombia visit plan.org.au/ourwork/southernamerica/colombia

Produced for Colombia by the Australian National Office.

artagena is a picturesque historic city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. A World Heritage site, it attracts many tourists. But behind its beauty, many communities are struggling with high levels of drug addiction, alcoholism, and domestic violence.

One of these is San Francisco, where there are over 70 gangs, and over 2,700 young people directly or indirectly involved in violence. Looking for solutions For many young people from San Francisco, La Carreta Viajera (“the travelling wagon”) has provided a way out. As its name suggests, the Wagon travels through the community providing events and activities. It came about because a group of young people wanted to find alternatives to the hostile environment in which they lived, full of street fights, drugs and family violence. Twenty-one-year-old Cristian is one of the Wagon’s creators and remembers how it all started: “One evening we came up with the idea of a mobile wagon providing help and guidance, with music, books and games for local children. It would be easy to transport, and we could take it to strategic places such as parks, streets, corners, schools and the church.” Plan provided financial support to get the project started, and ran workshops and training events on conflict resolution, family violence, sexual and reproductive rights, and parenting. Plan also supported young people’s groups in the wider community: local sports and ecological groups, schools and libraries. The Wagon rolled out in mid 2007, with more than 25 young people from San Francisco, ready to fill their community with friendship, games and entertainment. It wasn’t easy in the beginning: “At first, young people thought we were crazy and stayed away. So we changed our strategy and ran workshops, encouraging children to bring their siblings and parents,” says 16-year-old Felix.

“I am very proud of my Wagon, because through it I have seen radical changes in my community.”

The Wagon has had a huge impact on the young people involved. Javier, aged 14, says: “I wasn’t very concerned about what went on around me, and I thought that the violent situations which I saw were normal. Through the workshops, I learned to love myself and my family, and to express what I feel without fear or prejudice. My family’s relationships have improved 100%, and my parents like what I do. Today, I am a leader who has managed to get more than 35 young people involved in the Wagon.” Arsenia, Javier’s mother, agrees. “The best thing is that my son and his friends are occupied in productive activities. Through Plan, they have appeared on television, and made several videos. I feel my son is famous, and he has achieved that with the Wagon.” Providing alternatives to violence The Wagon goes out every week offering recreational activities, reading afternoons and workshops. It also provides a space where children and young people can express their ideas freely, and a way to promote values such as tolerance, respect, and unity. A larger youth organisation has grown up around the Wagon, and its co-ordinators have more plans for the future: “We want to be able to project videos, and have a giant screen for musical events, and we want to grow to reach more people.” Plan continues to provide financial support and training, to help the Wagon to expand. Young people now know that there is an alternative to San Francisco’s daily violence and conflict. They can see that others from their community have left behind gangs, drugs and crime, and are involved in music, sports, and building strong relationships with their families. Cristian has the last word: “I am very proud of my Wagon, because through it I have seen radical changes in my community.” Some names have been changed for child protection and privacy purposes.

plan.org.au


Plan Colombia Annual Progress Report 2009