facts about Centro de Orientación:
- Ages served: Ages range from 6 – 16 years
- Education: Children attend local public schools, where core academic subjects are taught. At the center, they receive moral guidance, tutoring and vocational training.
- Academic year: Typically begins in mid-January and ends in mid-November. Students enjoy summer vacation from late November through early January, and a two-week winter break in July.
- Activities: In this safe environment, the children are able to enjoy a variety of recreational activities coordinated by volunteers from local universities.
- Nutrition: Nutritious meals and snacks are provided each day.
- Medical care: One of the nuns’ long-term goals is to provide medical care at the center. For now, children’s health is closely monitored, and care is provided at local clinics when the need arises.
Situated in the northwestern corner of South America, Colombia is rich in natural beauty, comprising rugged Andean mountains, lowland plains, sprawling Amazon rainforest and coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Archeological evidence suggests that humans have called this land home for thousands of years. Its modern history begins at the end of the 15th century, when Christopher Columbus and the first Spanish explorers arrived in the region, subsequently establishing the area’s first successful Spanish settlement in 1508. Spanish colonization continued for over 400 years.
In the mid-19th century, Colombia gained its independence and established itself as South America’s first constitutional government. However, political instability in the mid-to-late 20th century led to the uprising of guerilla groups which have wreaked havoc through all manner of social injustice. Tragically, their targets are most often children. Kidnappings, human trafficking, recruitment as soldiers into paramilitary groups and forcible participation in drug-trafficking rings are all too common realities for vulnerable and disadvantaged children here. For this reason, Centro de Orientación serves as a beacon of hope in the large, central-highland city of Manizales. Established by an order of nuns, the center offers a place of protection and safety for impoverished mothers and their children. The facility functions as a community center to rehabilitate mothers who have fallen victim to the ravages of poverty, while helping their children become mature, confident and educated young adults. Here, these deserving families receive the opportunity to rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come.
Facts about Colombia:
- Population: 50.8 million (2020)
- Languages Spoken: Spanish (official)
- Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (2020)
- Poverty Rate: 27% (2020)