A very happy Easter to all friends and supporters of Children of Colombia. Thank you for your generous help – especially appreciated in these difficult times for vulnerable children and their carers.
|This year, Mother’s Day falls on Sunday 14th March. Generate free donations for us when you shop gifts, flowers and even cards from 4,000+ retailers with @GiveasyouLive > giveasyoulive.com/join/childrenofcolombia/_search/stores/gifts?utm_source=charityfr&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=FRmothersday2021&utm_content=220221
Beautiful flowers to arrange at home from Bloom and Wild, great chocs from Thorntons and lots of gorgeous cards from Etsy – with shops still closed, online shopping is simple and gives you fantastic choice to make your mum feel special this Mother’s Day. So if you can’t be together, let her know you’re thinking of her and help Children of Colombia at the same time.
Marelvi Laureano, one of Fundacion Natütama‘s educators, has written a first hand account of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the indigenous Ticuna community living in the small town of Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon. Marelvi has a job at the mayor’s office. She also works for Natütama teaching in her local community about the importance of protecting the environment and conserving its rare, endangered species such as the Amazon’s pink river dolphins, sloths and manatees.
The account is inspiring for Marelvi’s ability to find rays of hope and positivity in the midst of the crisis. Despite illness, food shortages, poverty and serious problems due to erosion of the river banks on which the town is situated, Marelvi says families have been brought closer together, people have appreciated their cultural ties with the land, and plants and animals have thrived during lockdown. This is a shorter extract. You can read the original version in Spanish here Natutama – Marelvi’s Account Covid 2020
“For me, life in the time of the pandemic was very difficult, being locked in without contact with other people. Also, we weren’t able to fulfil our personal objectives or Natütama’s work of reaching out to the communities.
“Furthermore, it was tough economically since most people rely on selling goods for their livelihood and they weren’t able to go out to sell them. It was also hard for me because the mayor’s office was closed and I was out of work for the pandemic, although we continued working with the Foundation (Natütama) researching local folk tales for future lessons who gave us a bonus. My family and I got Covid-19 and I had a relapse and had to buy medicines and get plant remedies. My husband couldn’t go out to get our daily food but … did get work on the cargo boats bringing food supplies to the town.
“At home, my daughters were bored, especially the little one who wanted to go out to play.
“We were also saddened and worried by the erosion of the Zancudillo (the banks of the river) which were washed away with part of the village’s port/dock.
“On the bright side, local flora and fauna flourished in those pandemic months. The children didn’t leave their houses and the flowers and plants grew and looked beautiful and numbers of fish and other wild animals increased.
“On the other hand most people devoted themselves to cultivating the chagra, the gardens in the jungle where indigenous people grow their fruit and vegetables, and they realised how important the land was and is for their food and diet. On my plot, I was also able to sow some bananas and fruit with the help of my daughters. I was able to be with my daughters every day – normally with work we do not have time to be together constantly. This improved my relationship with my eldest daughter and I was able to gain her confidence so she could tell me personal things that she had stored up. It also greatly strengthened my family relationship with my mom and sisters.
For me and my family, this pandemic was a learning curve and all our historic cultural values – including the importance of traditional medicine and the management of the chagra as a source of life – were reinforced. I realised we humans are not prepared for such drastic changes, but little by little we came to appreciate the real value of things.
In conclusion, the situation was difficult economically, socially, culturally, psychologically and health and education suffered but it did have positive effects for the natural world. With these words I close the experience during the pandemic.”
Fundación Natütama faced significant challenges in 2020. The charity, based in Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon, had to contend not only with the impact of Covid-19 but also major flooding which caused serious erosion to the banks of the town and its port.
The pandemic put a stop to the tourist industry – a major income source for the local community – and the floods ruined crops so families were going hungry and had no medical supplies to treat people suffering with Covid-19 in an isolated area with no proper hospitals or medical facilites. Schools were closed for much of the year interrupting Natütama’s education programme teaching local schoolchildren about the many endangered animals and plants, their place in the local culture and the the importance of conserving the very special natural environment of the Amazonian rainforest.
Natūtama staff worked with members of Fundación Fénix in Bogotá to source supplies of food and essential medical equipment which Natütama educators distributed to local families at the peak of the crisis. A big thank you to everyone who donated so generously to Children of Colombia’s Amazon Covid Appeal who helped provide this important help at such a difficult time.
Though unable to continue their work in local schools, the educators worked hard preparing material for use in the future and managed to hold their annual Natütama Week despite the many obstacles.
Wildlife monitoring was less affected by the restrictions of the pandemic and sightings of endangered species such as manatees, sloths and pink river dolphins actually increased, probably due to the decrease in river traffic with few tourists visiting the area. The floods are also changing the environment, creating new lakes and areas suitable for manatees to live and breed safely. Two orphan manatees were found and taken back to the Natutama centre where they were cared for and bottle fed. Sadly one died but the other survived and will be returned to the lakes and river when it is fully weaned.
This success was the inspiration for the “Manatees” theme of Natutama Week 2020. Topics included the significance of these big, gentle aquatic mammals in indigenous culture, where they feature in many folk myths and stories, the danger of extinction due to hunting and changes to their environment and conservation problems associated with the capture of the manatee calves.
“Because of the erosion to the river bank, climate change also became an important sub-theme during the week. The educators worked hard to find strategies to reach people in the area without forming gatherings and meetings. They developed many posters along the main pathways and used the local loud speaker systems for interviews, story-telling, information and music. The elders talked about manatees and also about the influence of Natütama in the area, especially the benefits for children growing up and learning to care about their history and their surroundings.”
Natütama director Sarita Kendall sums up:
“… although we were unable to carry out some of the usual activities, we worked to use the time and funding in the best possible way and made a difference to the lives of many people in Puerto Nariño, especially in creating opportunities for children to reflect and to celebrate their Amazon world.”
The 2020 annual report from Fénix, the Colombian charity which supports vulnerable young women through mentoring and education, makes difficult reading.
“This was a terrifying and tragic year.” writes founding director Timothy Ross. “For the Fénix girls, it meant confinement, fear, the proximity of death and reduced income and hopes, in a nasty echo of early experiences of poverty and trauma.”
Several girls contracted Covid-19 and some lost family members during the pandemic. The “stay at home” lockdown rules have been stressful for many but they brought much greater hardship for girls living with abusive, violent families. The usual weekly get togethers, lessons and psychology and mentoring sessions had to be done online and the lack of face-to-face contact and freedom to escape tense home environments were very real set-backs.
Despite the many difficulties, Fénix reports notable academic successes and achievements. New members have joined the group and are participating in the regular Saturday discussions and classes including Kenyerlith who shared her experiences as a Venezuelan refugee during this time of crisis which led her to take an overdose. Her Fenix friends got her to hospital and continue to support her after the emergency. Kenyerlith now has a residence permit and can apply for a place on a SENA course. “Her great intelligence and insight have allowed her to share with the Fénix group, work with the psychotherapist, to receive warm support and to integrate fully,” reports Timothy Ross.
Sandra graduated from her ‘Tecnólogo’ (Higher Education Diploma) in Human Resources Management and sisters Indira and Lizeth Angélica both achieved excellent academic success at high school and university while coping with the loss of their mother and grandmother.
Funds from Children of Colombia and other supporters have helped Fénix continue its work with these vulnerable students – including providing food and laptops – and the peer mentoring has proved a huge help during the pandemic. “Fénix supported me through depression and anxiety, you opened your arms and listened to me when I most needed it, and even helped economically when I had no work” writes one new member.
Through all their personal struggles and disadvantages, it is very moving to read how these young women have helped others even less fortunate than themselves. With support from Children of Colombia’s appeal, they sent six shipments of medical material and food to families in Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon which was hit particularly hard by Covid-19 and local flooding. Kilyam, a fully qualified nurse and former Fénix student, now works full-time with Covid patients in Leticia, in the Amazon area and alerted other Fénix members in Bogotá to the crisis. Educators from Natütama, the charity based in Puerto Nariño, helped sort and distribute the supplies and it was inspiring to read how the two groups had co-operated for the benefit of the local community.
You can read the full report and more about Fénix on the Fénix charity page
or download here:
A huge THANK YOU to everone who supported Children of Colombia’s Christmas Bed Appeal and helped to raise just over £3000* – way beyond our original target and our expectations. As soon as we receive the last donations from Just Giving we will transfer the money to Hogares Luz y Vida to purchase specialist, hospital style beds to provide better care and comfort for some of the very sick children who live at the home in downtown Bogotá. We will follow the process closely from purchase order to delivery and will post pictures of the beds in use as soon as they are delivered.
A very special thank you goes to Samuel and Gabriel Gelvez-Zapata, two little boys in Cambridge, UK, who set up their own Just Giving page to support Children of Colombia’s Bed Appeal and raised over £700 towards the total.
Sandra, their mum, contacted us after five-year old Samuel said he would like to do something special to help less fortunate children in Colombia at Christmas time. A Colombian working as a hospital consultant in the UK, Sandra is very aware of the added difficulties of caring for vulnerable people during the current pandemic. She wrote:
“One day my son Samuel came home from school asking me how he and his brother could collect some money to help children in need from Colombia this Christmas… What do you do as a parent when your 5-year old tells you that? Well, to start fundraising was the first thing that came to my mind.
“We want to support this charity (Children of Colombia) because they help 3 foundations in Colombia and due to the current situation, there are more children who need a special environment to be safe.”
Samuel painted rocks with beautiful bright rainbows to say a special thank you to his supporters living in Cambridge or working at Addenbrookes Hospital, Royal Papworth Hospital or Lister Hospital. We – and everyone at Luz y Vida – are so grateful to Samuel for his thoughtfulness for others, his inspiration and all his hard work painting rainbows. He is truly a very special young man.
*Includes Gift Aid before Just Giving fees.
A very Happy Christmas to all our friends and supporters who have given so generously to Children of Colombia’s Christmas Bed Appeal. We are raising money for special hospital-style beds to improve the care and comfort of very sick children and young adults at the Luz y Vida home in Bogotá, Colombia – and are just £349 short of our target! We hope to reach our goal by the end of the campaign on 31 December – a wonderful gift to start off the New Year.
Luz y Vida is building a new unit for residents who need special medical care and needs 40 specialist beds for the project.
But because of the additional risks of Covid-19 to these very vulnerable youngsters, they need the beds right now to provide the extra care and safety they require.
If you can help, please donate now and give a very precious Christmas gift in this most difficult year.
And a very Happy Christmas to all the carers, administrators, staff and educators at all three Colombian charities who have been working even harder than ever to provide care, love and support to very vulnerable youngsters in the face of the additional worry, pressures and challenges of Covid-19. We are in awe of your courage and commitment. Thank you.
We need just £469 to hit our target by 31 Dec! A huge thank you to everyone who has already supported our Christmas Bed Appeal on Just Giving. You have raised over £1700 to buy special hospital beds for very sick children and young people at the Luz y Vida children’s home in Bogotá, Colombia.
Please consider making a donation – your personal Christmas gift to these less vulnerable and needy children. Even £5 can make a difference so please give what you can.
The inspirational Luz y Vida home cares for 230 residents with conditions including with chronic or serious mental and physical health conditions including cerebral palsy, crystal skin (Epidermolysis Bullosa), hearing loss, blindness, mental and developmental delay, chronic and acute malnutrition, gastrostomy (gastric tube feeding), quadriplegia and cancer. Each child and young person is given professional medical care and lots of love and encouragement to achieve their own full potential.
The beds they need are electrically operated and adjustable to five different positions to raise the patient’s back or legs or the mattress height and make it easier for carers to attend to the child’s needs. They have IV (Intravenous Therapy) stands and custom-built mattresses to help prevent bedsores and improve patient comfort.
Please click below to read more and donate now:
It’s Cyber Monday and many of us will be looking for online shopping bargains. Lots of people – and especially charities – are feeling the pinch as a result of Covid-19 restrictions so getting a good deal is even more important this year. And with Give As You Live you can make the most of the bargains and help Children of Colombia at no cost to you.
Hundreds of top brands, supermarkets and High Street stores including Boots, John Lewis, Asos, Argos and many more have signed up to the scheme. They will donate between 1 and 4 per cent (and sometimes more) of every online purchase you make to Children of Colombia – so easy and completely free to you!
With many shops still closed in the current Covid-19 lockdown and Christmas just a few weeks away it’s easy to surf the web for gifts for family and friends, great offers for the home, a wardrobe update or decorations to make this Christmas as special as possible to make up for having to celebrate with limited numbers this year. And you can have double satisfaction of getting a great deal on your shopping and helping vulnerable children at the same time
Please click https://www.giveasyoulive.com/join/childrenofcolombia? now – select Children of Colombia as your chosen charity and opt for a reminder every time you visit an online shopping site so you never miss a chance to raise free funds and know you are doing something to help others every time you buy.
Did you know that major supermarkets, High Street brands and even comparison sites will donate between 1%-4% (and sometimes more) of your online spend to Children of Colombia with no cost to you if you sign up to Give As You Live? It’s such an easy but little known way to generate free funds – something we can all do with minimum effort once we know about it!
Lots of us have turned to online shopping during the current pandemic. With shop closures and social distancing restrictions, it has proved a lifeline to have home deliveries of essential items and still buy gifts for friends and family for important occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.
“I’ve raised over £100 for Children of Colombia since signing up with Give As You Live – mostly from doing my mum’s weekly grocery shop online when she was living at home and couldn’t get to the shops herself,” writes Children of Colombia Secretary Gwyneth Simmons. “If I buy clothes or gifts online for birthdays or Christmas each purchase generates a percentage which goes straight to the charity with no admin or fuss on my part. It’s really easy. And in these difficult times, when the charity needs all the support it can get to help children and young adults who are vulnerable or suffering, it’s hard to find a reason not to raise free funds when you can.”
Just click on the link below to sign up:
Amazon also gives a percentage of every purchase to Children of Colombia if you sign up to Amazon Smile. https://www.amazon.co.uk/amazon smile. Once signed up, just sign in to your Amazon Smile as you would to Amazon and carry on with your shopping as usual.
Online purchases are likely to peak this weekend when prices are slashed and pre-Christmas sale events are scheduled for what has become known as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. So please consider signing up to Amazon Smile and Give As You Live today and know you are helping Children of Colombia with every online Christmas present or grocery order.