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”.