With our first newsletter of the year 2022, we want to announce the completion of the library started in 2019, which bears the name of our great friend Roberto Villaquiran. Thanks to his effort and dedication with his group of friends from Europe and Colombia, he gathered the funds that were missing to finish it. The chairs and tables were a gift from CANPACK Colombia.
This space has been created to encourage the habit of reading. Our intention is to stimulate creativity and facilitate the development of children in the village of Marquetalia, Magdalena.
On each birthday, the children receive a gift and a book, which, once read, it is also shared with the other children. Reading will not be the only activity, as they will also receive workshops on different topics, listen to and participate in storytelling organised by the teachers of the educational program financed by CANPACK Colombia. Our objective is to promote education whilst stimulating curiosity and motivating children to participate by living a joyful experience.
We would like to express our infinite gratitude to the people who supported us in the project of the library construction; Marcela Ordoñez, Isabelle Meiers, Yves Maskens, Maria Angelica Arenas, and her friends from France, Maria Angeles Montes, Lars Livrud and Ruth Kappler for the initiation of the construction and Roberto Villaquiran for its final accomplishment.
We would also like to thank the group of mothers of the AMA Association of Belgium, for collecting clothes for the children of Marquetalia, as well as for financing the theater classes.
Finally, we thank ‘Corporación Colombia Internacional’ for sending us agricultural engineers every time we need them.
Social Work Volunteering
Between September and March 2022, we had the support of French volunteer Martin Bretton. He was very committed to the community. Thanks to his creativity, the children improved their English vocabulary through games. He also brought a ‘Drone’, which was a new experience for the children who enjoyed accompanying him in the recording and watching the videos on YouTube.
You can watch the video made by Martin for us at the end of his staying entitled: “One day in Palomino”
In April Jacintha Harder came from Holland. She adapted very well to the work that Martin had previously initiated and to the needs of each student.
Our thanks to both of them for their support of our social work.
Roberto Villaquiran Library
In 2018 we started the construction of our new library, with donations received from our group of friends from Europe. Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, work was interrupted and the money we had at our disposal was used to buy the first boxes of food distributed to the most vulnerable families.
The work was complicated because of the difficult location of this rural area with difficult access. We also had to build a retaining wall, as in winter the water from the river floods this area.
This new library has the name of our great friend Roberto Villaquiran, who made an appeal to his group of friends, obtaining the donations required to finish it. Roberto with that same group of friends made a collection for the closing of the soccer field of the sidewalk with galvanized mesh doors to prevent the entry of animals and the passage of motorcycles that for years represented a constant danger for the population, particularly for children.
Theatre classes for children
They took place between April 1 and July 30, 2022. They were conducted by Professor Ana Mazhari (tabriziblu.wixsite.com/misitio) from Santa Marta and financed by AMA Belgium and a group of friends from Colombia.
Thanks to the theatre classes, the children are improving their expressive and interpretative skills, diction, communication and overcoming shyness and insecurity.
We hope to get funding again for this project to continue the classes between September and December 2022.
Renovation of the Nursery
Thanks to the donation of our friend Athanasia Gkiouleka, we were able to renovate the nursery facilities which were in very bad condition. The initial work was financed by Fundaprobic, the nursery’s operator. The roof was replaced with heat insulation, ceramic tile was installed on the entire floor and a fan was installed. We also painted the facilities and fixed the doors and windows with insect screens. On March 20, Mrs. Gkiouleka came from Belgium to visit the social work and appreciate the work already done.
At Easter we received the visit of the Navazo-Arenas family from France, they came with their children to see the facilities and the libraries they donated. It was nice to see how their children Paula and Rafael (13 and 10-years-old respectively), with the help of the children of our foundation made a mural graffiti at the main entrance of the nursery.
In May we were also visited by the French artist Alaïa Nell. She donated several mural paintings with seaweed and waves in the classrooms of the day care center. The walls were filled with colors and joy. She also drew the alphabet and numbers so that the little ones from 0 to 5-years-old could become familiar with numbers and letters.
Vegetable gardens for all
During the last working visit in March, we noted the destruction of the vegetable gardens started on February 7, 2021. Indeed, a plague of African snails, which affects the Atlantic coast, completely destroyed it. We proposed to Professor Max Casasbuenas, financed by CANPACK Colombia, to start again and lead this project. We made a call to the directors of the CCI, and they sent us the agronomists Mario Támara and Leandro Gil (www.cci.org.co).
They gave a talk on the importance of this agricultural project to encourage contact with nature so that children could follow closely the whole process of germination of a seed until it becomes food.
They made a diagnosis of the situation and the list of the required material that was acquired by us. We are excited about this new challenge. It will be an experience for children to learn to overcome obstacles. A vegetable garden is not an easy task. We are going to teach them through the process of “our little garden” work that, like in real life, the courage to keep on pursuing our goals is always rewarding with an intense feeling of satisfaction.
Our aim is that each child would have their own garden in the future with the help of their parents, that they would grow vegetables for consumption which would eventually generate some additional income for their families. Let’s keep in mind that the world food crisis has increased the cost of food, the families of the village have not yet recovered from the COVID-19 crisis and now the war in Ukraine has accelerated inflation.
Celebration “Birthdays of the boys and girls”
On July 1, 2022, we celebrated the birthdays of the first 6 months of the year. Each child
received a gift and borrowed a book, which once read was also shared among the other children. We are promoting reading among the children, thanks to the new library with 500 children’s books. The children were happy to celebrate their birthdays with their classmates and family members. Usually, due to lack of money, they almost never celebrate at home. Our thanks to Professor Juliana for being so attentive to the children.