When our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, and I first arrived in Medellín, Colombia, I noticed a striking difference from our visit to the capital city of Bogotá. Unlike many other cities that I have visited in South America with Children Incorporated, Medellín’s level of poverty and destitution was present even in the most well-off areas of town. As we drove from the airport to downtown Medellín, I was surprised to see homeless people living on the streets — even in the more affluent neighborhoods. This was something I didn’t often see in underdeveloped or developing countries.

Centro Primavera offers mothers courses so they can graduate from high school and training so they can gain the skills they need to obtain employment.

We arrived in the early evening and planned to meet with our volunteer coordinator, Piedad, and her assistant, Manuela, outside of the San Pedro neighborhood, where our affiliated project, Centro Primavera, is located.

We arrived at a small, downtown Medellín restaurant where we joined Piedad and Manuela, who were already waiting for us. Piedad explained that she has been with Centro Primavera for 25 years. The organization operates in one of the tougher neighborhoods in the city — where drug use and crime are prevalent, and many impoverished women are forced to work in prostitution to make money to support their children.

Piedad outside of Centro Primavera with a few of our sponsored children.

Piedad’s primary goal is to help get these young women and mothers off the street. Centro Primavera offers them courses so they can graduate from high school and training so they can gain the skills they need to obtain employment. Other programs at the Center are geared towards providing children of these mothers a place to get tutoring support and play inside and away from the violence and drug abuse that is rampant in their neighborhood.

A place for mothers and children

The next day, we met Piedad at Centro Primavera in the early morning. She took us on a tour of the facility, which serves children both as a daycare center and an afterschool enrichment center. Children ranging from infancy to eighteen receive nutritious food and medical care.

The older children enjoy arts and crafts, dance classes and games in one of the many recreation rooms available for their use. The Center also has a full library on the first floor, a kitchen on the second floor and private offices where women and children received psychological support.

Stories of My Neighborhood

“Relatos de mi Barrio” was created by Centro Primavera staff members to help the community understand the Center’s mission.

After taking the tour of the buildings, Luis and I had the chance to sit down with some of the mothers and hear more about the programs that Centro Primavera offers. The Center focuses on four programs: skills training in such areas as cosmetology, computers, baking and leatherwork; prevention of abuse; women’s rights education; and sustainability and resources for the institution to continue with its work.

The fourth program is called “Memory and Identity,” which focuses on providing information about the San Pedro neighborhood to the local community and authorities so that there can be a plan of action as to how to handle issues that arise. Piedad shared with us a book that she had created called “Relatos de mi Barrio,” which tells the history of San Pedro and how Centro Primavera has had a positive impact on the community over the years.

It was apparent to both Luis and me that Piedad works hard for the mothers and the children at the Center. She is incredibly grateful for the Children Incorporated sponsorship program which offers basic needs to kids and gives them a sense of encouragement and pride from their sponsors. She would love to get more children enrolled in our program – at the time of our visit, more than twenty children were available for sponsorship.

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How do I sponsor a child in Colombia?

You can sponsor a child in Colombia in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Colombia that is available for sponsorship.

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