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Children of Colombia Secretary Gwyneth Simmons with Natutama educator in Puerto Narino Colombian Amazon

Puerto Narino “Putting World Cities to Shame”

The remote town of Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon where the Natütama Foundation has its base is heralded as a shining example of environmental sustainability in a recent BBC article.

“Puerto Nariño is a tranquil experiment in sustainable living where motor vehicles are banned and the streets are as clean as Copenhagen’s” runs the heading.

The article also features the Natütama Foundation which is based in Puerto Nariño and runs education programmes for local people and visitors about the importance of protecting Amazonian wildlife and habitats.   The author quotes from an interview with Marelvi Laureano, education co-ordinator at Natütama and even enjoys a swim in Lake Tarapoto where the Foundation carries out wildlife monitoring.

One of the mNatutama's observation centre to monitor rare Amazon species such as manatees and pink dolphinsost bio-diverse places on earth, the Amazon is home to many rare and beautiful creatures including river dolphins and manatees.  The future of people and wildlife is dependent on the ecosystem continuing to thrive and the careful management of natural resources.

To read the full article follow the link below:

https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20240419-the-amazonian-town-putting-world-cities-to-shame

 

 

 

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Natutama eco-education in the Amazon

Anniversary Celebrations in Puerto Narino

April Ist was a very special day for the people of Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon.

The local community got together to celebrate the anniversary of the municipality and the Natütama team were enthusiastic participants in the proceedings and parade.  The anniversary celebrations are always an occasion for the team of eco-educators to tell everyone about the theme for Natütama week in August. Children and adults dressed as the Beru butterfly and the Yacuruna, both important character in the local  Ticuna mythology.

The Yacuruna (from the Quechua language “yaku” = water, “runa” = man) are mythical water people with magical powers often associated with protecting the environment and the creatures that inhabit it.  The  legend has significant cultural and spiritual significance among the indigenous people of the Amazon. They are often depicted in art and folklore, and their stories are passed down from generation to generation.

The Natütama Foundation is based in Puerto Nariño and runs education programmes for local people and visitors about the importance of protecting Amazonian wildlife and habitats.  The team of educators draw on local knowledge, traditions and storytelling as important resources for their environmental education work with the local community.

One of the most bio-diverse places on earth, the Amazon is home to many rare and beautiful creatures including river dolphins and manatees.  The future of people and wildlife is dependent on the ecosystem continuing to thrive and the careful management of natural resources.

Read Natūtama’s full report for 2023 here.

 

 

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Fenix – Annual Report 2023

Read the full report of Fénix students’ amazing achievements against all odds in the charity’s 2023 report.

Just click on the box in the right hand corner of the Fundacion Fénix page for director Timothy Ross’s summary of their stories, their educational and personal successes and the difficulties they face in Colombia today.

Many of the original students on the Fénix programme have now graduated and are mentoring others and making a very positive contribution to society as health and social care professionals.

“One of the central aims of Fénix is to support girls without functional families, brought up in institutions, on the street or in any other situation of vulnerability and exclusion, so that they may turn these experiences into strengths and gain the education to become excellent professionals who can, in turn, give the support needed by other girls to escape similar situations. Fénix encourages members to go on beyond what they need just for a job and economic independence but to become well qualified specialists.” explains Director Timothy Ross in his report.

“The UK charity Children of Colombia (CoC) is an important factor in making possible these transformations, collecting and transferring donations to Bogotá, recovering taxes paid by UK residents, and organizing fund-raising events.”

So a big thank you to all our kind supporters who have been so generous in their support and made such a difference to these young women from very disadvantaged and abusive backgrounds.  Just click on the button at the top of the page or the link here to donate today

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Tea and Talks with Fenix

 

Last November, Children of Colombia Secretary Gwyneth Simmons travelled to Bogotá to meet representatives from Fénix, Natütama and Hogares Luz y Vida.  The aim was to see at first hand how all three charities were managing and to talk to them about their successes, challenges and hopes for the future and then report back to fellow Trustees and loyal supporters to demonstrate that their kind donations are being spent wisely and making a real difference to lives in Colombia.

On Saturday 11th November, Fénix director Beatriz Vejorano invited Gwyneth to have tea in her apartment with some of the young women who have benefited from Fénix’s sponsorship and support to attain their educational and career goals.

“It was a really lively, intelligent gathering and we had some very interesting conversations about their lives and work and the effects of the Covid pandemic and lockdown particularly on education,” says Gwyneth. “They had lots of questions about Children of Colombia – how it started and what it does – and about life and social conditions in the UK.  They were particularly interested to see how the British healthcare and education systems compared with Colombian ones.  Lizeth Angélica – just starting her final year of a social work degree at the University de la Salle – had been helping to set up support groups for women and children who were victims of domestic abuse and gave some fascinating insights into the problems of discrimination against women and the many Venezuelan refugees who are living in and around Bogotá.

“Disney completed her degree in social work five years ago (with the support of donations from Children of Colombia). She was very articulate and passionate about her current career working to support girls and women who have been victims of violence.”

She writes, “hace cinco anos termine mi (training) profesional, orgullosa de estudiar trabajo social. Tengo una hija de 3 anos 10 meses. Infinitamente agradecida con la fundación social fénix y aso solo puede ser gracias a la generosidad y el apoyo de donantes como Gwyneth. Mil gracias por su apoyo. Mi hija se llama Valentina.”

Also enjoying the chat and the very delicious and generous tea that Beatriz provided were Sandra, who has been supported at the Saturday English and peer group meetings, and star student Indira whose success in winning a place to study nursing at one of Bogota’s top universities has featured in previous Blog posts.  “(Estoy) muy agradeceda por la vinculación y acceso que Fenix me permite acceder con las clases” writes Sandra.  Not forgetting Lizeth Angélica’s son Julian and little Valentina.

The Saturday group is led by Beatriz with English teacher Ezana – also at the tea – and psychologist Deyanire who all provide personal support and mentoring to young women from very poor and disadvantaged backgroundsé.

“One of the central aims of Fénix is to support girls without functional families, brought up in institutions, on the street or in any other situation of vulnerability and exclusion, so that they may turn these experiences into strengths and gain the education to become excellent professionals who can, in turn, give the support needed by other girls to escape similar situations. Fénix encourages members to go on beyond what they need just for a job and economic independence but to become well qualified specialists,” explains Fénix director Timothy Ross in his 2023 Annual Report.  Click here to read or download the full report on Fénix’s page on this website under “What We Do”.

 

 

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Another £25 Raised from Online Shopping!

We are amazed at the significant and steady income Children of Colombia receives from Give As You Live!

It’s such an easy way to raise funds every time you shop online.  Just sign up to the app and hundreds of stores and top brands will give a percentage of your online spend to your nominated charity.  At no cost to you!

As we start thinking about Christmas shopping, this is a wonderful time to spread the love and give something special to the children in Colombia every time you buy a gift online for your family and loved ones.  And every time you grab a bargain the charity benefits too!

If you haven’t signed up yet, get started today: https://www.giveasyoulive.com/join/childrenofcolombia?utm_source=25milestone&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=Milestones&utm_content=2023

Thank you so much for your support – please sign up today!

 

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Fenix student Indira graduating from Nursing School in Bogota, Colombia

Fenix Student Indira Set for Nursing Degree

Fenix student Indira is determined to overcome all obstacles to pursue her goal of a nursing career in the Colombian capital, Bogotâ.

Indira joined her sister Angélica in 2021 as a member of Fundación Social Fénix, the charity which supports young women from poor, abusive and very disadvantaged backgrounds through further education.  Indira impressed the Fénix board – which includes former students – with her determination to study for a qualification in the care of older adults.  “She is a delightful, intelligent and thoughtful 19 year old, and we are very confident that she will make an excellent and conscientious care professional,” wrote director Timothy Ross.

Earlier this year, Timothy wrote to us at Children of Colombia with the great news that Indira had graduated from Escuela de Salud San Pedro Claver – a technical college in Bogotá – with a nursing diploma.  Fénix had given financial support, advice and encouragement to complete the course but the academic achievement was down to Indira’s hard work, dedication and ability.

Spurred on by her success, Indira has since applied to and been accepted for a four-year nursing degree at El Rosario, one of Colombia´s top five ranked and most prestigious universities.  She also applied for and was awarded a student loan/credit from the Bogotá education department for the fees – non-refundable, provided she maintains a high grade average and on graduation puts in six months of voluntary work.

“This was all on her own initiative and without help from Fénix,” writes Timothy.  “Until now we knew nothing more than ‘I am applying for a scholarship’and never imagined she was trying for El Rosario.  We are amazed.”

Unlike most of her fellow students who went to top private schools, speak other languages and come from privileged backgrounds, Indira has only Fenix and her older sister Angelica for support and gets to classes by long bus rides from a poor barrio.

Everyone at Fénix and Children of Colombia is very proud of Indira and Timothy has every confidence that she will do well and achieve her goals:

“She sets her sights high and is a determined and disciplined young lady, with a generous, caring spirit.”

Despite the grant, Indira will need to cover her fares, living costs, text books, uniforms and other expenses over the next four years.  Raising the funding to support her is Fénix’s main priority.  If you would like to help, please click here and make your donation through our Just Giving page with a note to say it should be ear-marked for Indira at Fénix.  We will make sure all funds are sent out promptly to give Indira a good start and the reassurance of financial security so she can concentrate on working hard and getting those grade averages.

Congratulation Indira – and good luck with your studies!

Fenix student Indira graduating from Nursing School in Bogota, Colombia
Nursing graduate Indira (right) with sister Angelica, nephew Julian and Fenix director Beatriz Vejarano.
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From Bogota to the Amazon – Long Journey for Donated Laptop!

Student Vanessa Laureano is delighted with the new laptop which survived a mammoth journey all the way from St George’s School in Bogotá to Puerto Nariño in the Amazon, one of the most isolated areas in the very south of Colombia.

The refurbished computer was the generous gift of students and staff at Colegio San Jorge de Inglaterra in the Colombian capital Bogotá.  School Principal Jaime Acosta and the school’s IT team made sure that the laptop had all the proper licences and applications required to make it a really useful educational aid – very precious in an area where, unlike Bogotá, laptops are very hard to come by.

The laptop left Bogotá on 27 March this year.  It was taken by courier to Leticia, capital of the Amazonas region of Colombia.  It had to wait for a while as local contact Marelvi from Fundación Natütama was ill with Dengue fever and not well enough to make the long boat journey up the river to collect it.  It finally reached its destination in Puerto Nariño on 5 April – but proved well worth the wait!

Vanessa is studying to be a teacher so she can follow in her mother Marelvi’s footsteps as an educationalist in this remote area of the country.

Thanks to everyone at St George’s for their generous gift which will be put to very good use to help less fortunate students many miles away. One of Bogotá’s best known schools, Colegio San Jorge has a special interest in conservation and the environment – a principal it shares with Natütama the charity dedicated to environmental education and conservation – especially of endangered species – in the Amazon.

“Our school is a natural reserve made up of a savannah wetland inhabited by multiple species of birds, fish, frogs, algae, amonth others.  In addition, we enjoy large areas of high Andean forest and gardens that provide food and shelter to many species of flora and fauna which we can appreciate on a daily basis.  We have identified 208 species of plants and 35 species of birds.” explains the school’s website.

IT – along with English – is another specialist subject for which St George’s prides itself, so the refurbished laptop was the perfect project to fit the school’s philosophy and areas of expertise.

 

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Book Fair Trip for Fenix Students in Bogota

Youngsters from the Fenix Reading Group had a great day out when they visited the 2023 Bogotá Book Fair with director Beatrix Alvarez.

Beatriz runs regular Saturday classes to encourage girls to read – mainly books and relevant news reports.  The aim is to make reading a pleasurable habit and a part of life rather than required reading for school which can sometimes become a chore.  Secondly, Beatriz hopes to broaden the girls’ horizons and make them aware of important things that are happening in Colombia and beyond.

So in addition to reading about Colombia (primarily Alfredo Molano’s Cartas a Antonia and reports about various forms of inequality in the country), the group has read about and discussed the very different situation of girls and women in Iceland and in Afghanistan under the Taliban, environmental issues, sexual violence, the plight of Venezuelan immigrants in Colombia and other contemporary issues.

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Fenix logo - educational charity in Bogota, Colombia

Major Successes for Fenix Students in 2022

2022 was a year of achievements and successes for Fénix students in the Colombian capital Bogotá despite having to cope with the additional problems of bad weather, floods and rocketing street crime as well as sharply rising prices, particularly food, which have made life hard for everyone. However, almost all students have finished 2022 with extremely high grades. “We have had difficult times, with more challenges yet to come, but the important thing is to overcome every obstacle and to keep going ahead”. (Disney – graduate social worker).

Fénix continues to support the young women with funding for higher education courses, mainly in the health and social care sectors.  It also provides money for travel and other essential expenses besides group mentoring and individual encouragement and support.

Deyanire, a qualified psychologist, leads online meetings where girls can discuss their problems, concerns and achievements.  This has helped with self-confidence and the important reassurance of support from the group especially in times of great stress and hardship.

Girls also attend small, intensive group language classes on Saturdays and director Beatriz leads group discussions on political and social affairs in the country including the peace process and the role these young women can play in their society.

It’s not all studying.  The girls have lots of fun, too, with outings to the cinema with ice cream and discussions about the films.

You can read the full Fenix 2022 report here Fénix 2022 – Annual Report Natutama – 2022 Report or on the Fénix page of this website.  It includes some remarkable achievements by some very special, dedicated and talented young women who would not have the opportunity to study and improve their chances in life without the support of Fundacíon Social Fénix.

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