Colombia is the fourth largest economy in South America. A peace treaty was signed after many years of armed conflict and the country is renowned for some of its innovative social projects. However, this success story does not ring true for all Colombians. We work in areas where the armed conflict carries on, with high levels of poverty and violence, and where power struggles between FARC splinter groups, ELN and drug-traffickers for domination leave behind daily human losses.
The disruption of social areas is manifested by the increase in the sale and consumption of narcotics, of sexual aggression against women, and recruitment of children and youth into armed groups. Whilst the recruitment is often forced, at times the minors actively opt in to the ranks of armed groups to avoid economic poverty. Sometimes the recruitment is unconscious and the involvement of a new recruit very gradual. Children are given cash in exchange for vigilance tasks, for example, and youth can initially be used to perform the roles of messengers. Given that the alternatives of decent employment, self-employment and good quality education are out of reach for the vast majority, involvement in the armed groups naturally increases and the group becomes a new family for the recruit.
This mix of abject poverty combined with lack of opportunities, alongside the ongoing armed conflict between drug cartels and rebel groups, results in a population that is subject to displacement, marginalization and an easy target for forced recruitment into armed groups - thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty, exclusion and violence. Lack of accountability and high levels of corruption of local government is widespread, and the under-resourced communities are left without a voice nor opportunities for change. Our projects provide safe spaces for those who are most vulnerable, providing an alternative to life on the street, and reducing the opportunity for such recruitment.
What we plan to do next
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Spotlight on our work in cities
"Let's Build a City" in Cartagena
In many locations across Colombia, we work to provide a safe environment in which children and youth affected by violence, malnutrition and poverty can learn and play, and where they receive what is often their only meal of the day.
This video presents our project "Let's Build a City" in the city of Cartagena.
Escuela de Artes Hip Hop Bogota
We work in some of the poorest and most vulnerable areas of Bogota.
This video presents a brief insight into one of our areas of work: the Hip Hop School.