Colombia’s internal conflict between warring guerilla factions, paramilitary groups, drug cartels and the government have forced millions of Colombians to flee for their very lives from their home towns in the country to poverty-stricken urban slums with rampant unemployment.
Colombia has the second highest number of forced displacements in the world. More than half of the people displaced are under 18 years of age.
Forced displacement affected over Colombian 925,000 families or an approximate total of 4.6 million people between 1985 and 2009. (Consultancy of Human Rights and Displacement - CODHES)
Facing severe income disparities, poverty and inadequate social services, The World Bank estimates that 65% of Colombia’s population lives below the poverty line. For Colombia’s rural dwellers, the poverty rate is estimated at 80%, of which 42% is considered extreme.
With little to no support in their new community and limited if any resources for their children’s education, families are forced to leave their children alone for long periods of time. As a result, the children – many of whom have already experienced unimaginable tragedies – become very vulnerable to street gangs, crime, drugs, sexual exploitation or being recruited as combatants and collaborators of illegal armed organizations.
Understanding it takes much more than giving money, to truly effect change for these children, Colombianitos was created in 2001 to improve the quality of their lives and empower them with the hope – and abilities - for a better future.
With a core focus on education, Colombianitos provides these affected children with the opportunity to stay off the streets, attend school and acquire an education – while participating in highly structured after school and weekend sports training and competitive tournaments, cultural arts programs and recreational activities.
Today, Colombianitos is helping to transform entire communities, inspiring and bringing new hope for a better future to 4,028 children (indirectly effecting 15,000 people, including their families) in seven impoverished areas of Colombia. The organization’s acceptance into communities historically hostile to outside intervention now enables other service organizations to provide basic health care and educational support to the community.
By working together with our sponsors, donors and supporters, Colombianitos is making a positive impact on the future of these children – and the future of Colombia.
Link to our latest Annual Report (2010)