Colombia

Population:46.3 millionLiteracy Rate:93%Religion: Roman Catholic (90%)

The Salesians are making a big impact in Colombia, and their efforts have been internationally recognized. The situation is critical: one in five children have no access to education, half the population live in poverty – including 6 million who are victims of extreme poverty – and 800,000 children reside in refugee camps. The crisis of street children is at epidemic proportions and thousands of at-risk youth are being recruited as child soldiers.

Featured Mission

Build Schools

In Colombia, 18% of school age children have no access to education.

One town where lack of access used to be the case is Condoto, a remote village nestled in the middle of a tropical rainforest in western Colombia. Most of the 30,000 inhabitants are descendents of Africans who escaped the slave trade. Mining is the main source of income – with low pay and harsh working conditions. 

There, Salesian Missions has built the first and only schools in the area and improve the lives of the students and all members of the communities – for generations to come. 


More Missions in Colombia

Bring Sports Programs

In Colombia, Don Bosco City offers children a place to live, study and learn a useful trade to help them integrate successfully into society.  An important part is the sporting program, which provides soccer, basketball, volleyball and chess. These opportunities allow youth to play on a team and make friends – as well as gain a sense of accomplishment.

Bring Music Education

In Colombia, the Children of the Street program of the Salesians Youth Service Foundation is an internationally recognized program for vulnerable children and youth. The programs counts music education as an important component to move youth to develop themselves physically, socially and spiritually. Youth take part in the youth symphony orchestra, other music groups and dance groups. Each has performed in festivals and art production, and the youth symphony has been invited to events in Spain and Germany.

Also in Colombia, a program at Don Bosco City includes clubs to promote artistic expression in music, dance and painting. Music education helps fuel the ambitions of the abandoned youth – many who have experienced life on the streets, abuse, child labor and poverty. As they receive the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and health, youth also find education and music inspires them to begin a new phase of their lives.

Bring Classrooms to Refugee Camps

As more than 800,000 of the two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Colombia are children, Salesian Missions efforts focus on providing educational opportunities to children and youth. Students in refugee camps learn valuable job skills which will not only provide income, but also reduce the likelihood they will be recruited as child soldiers. More than 70% of graduating students are placed in jobs through Salesian Missions partnerships with community organizations and the private sector.

Salesian Missions, in collaboration with the Salesians of Colombia, is working to obtain funding a for short-term integrated emergency assistance to increase the earning potential and improve the livelihoods, health and psychosocial status of 2,860 internally displaced (IDPs) and vulnerable persons (and 14,872 indirect beneficiaries) in the Colombian Departments of Valle del Cauca, Choco, Cauca, and Norte de Santander by providing market-driven technical vocational training, preventive and curative health treatment, and counseling services.

Teach Job Skills to Youth

Of Colombia’s 44 million people, 21 million are poor and 6 million live below the extreme poverty line, according to UNICEF. For many youth, vocational education offers the best chance to reach their full potential. Salesian Missions provides youth with a variety of opportunities:

  • Schools for internally displaced persons offer training in useful skills in tailoring, graphic design, electronics, mechanics and information technology.
  • Training for street children focuses on learning work skills while also continuing in traditional educational courses
  • Courses focusing on promoting entrepreneurship

As students participate, they rebuild their lives, obtain jobs, growing small businesses – and contributing to the overall future of Colombia.

Empower girls through education

The “Right to Dream” program for many poverty-stricken children in Medellin. One such child is Alejandra – who now has access to social support and educational program previously unimaginable to her and her siblings as they worked on the streets to help their family survive. One hundred students ages 7-18 receive vocational training and hot meals.

Give Hope to Street Children

For more than 30 years, homeless children have received support at Don Bosco City in Medellin, one of the oldest and largest programs for street children in Latin America. The program serves both boys and girls and goes beyond traditional homeless shelters by providing a three-stage program which culminates with vocational training. First, youth are given safety and shelter, along with food and clothing. Next, youth move into a special house where they receive remedial education and learn to live with others. In the final stage, youth receive jobs skills training or may attend local schools. Through this model of education and rehabilitation, youth are able to learn the skills needed to support themselves and break the cycle of poverty.

In its 42 years of operation, Don Bosco City has served 83,000 boys and girls. It began in 1965 with 125 children, and today serves more than 1,500 children, youth and families per year.

In Bogota, an internationally-recognized program helps street children overcome challenges – from where to find a nutritious meal to how to find an education and a job. Through the Children of the Street program from the Salesians Youth Service Foundation, instructors who were once street children themselves provide the support and stability needed for at-risk children and youth to rebuild their lives. The wide range of support includes:

  • Basic needs: Safe home environment, meals, nutritional tracking and basic education.
  • Social services, including detoxification and counseling for youth who have been involved in gangs, suffered physical or emotional abuse or have been child laborers.
  • Formal technical and school education, including workshops in baking, music, mechanics, computer science and cabinetmaking. Youth are also supplied with the materials needed for their education.

Approximately 15,000 youth receive the care and support necessary to take the necessary steps for a brighter future. Annually there are around 9,000 children and youth in the program, in addition to the social programs that the community rooms provide which serve around 11,700 people.

Provide Housing for Orphans

Each day in Colombia, 12 children are declared legally abandoned and 8 are put up for adoption.

For more than 30 years, homeless children have received support at Don Bosco City in Medellin, one of the oldest and largest programs for street children in Latin America. The program serves both boys and girls and goes beyond traditional homeless shelters by providing a three-stage program which culminates with vocational training. First, youth are given safety and shelter, along with food and clothing. Next, youth move into a special house where they receive remedial education and learn to live with others. In the final stage, youth receive jobs skills training or may attend local schools. Through this model of education and rehabilitation, youth are able to learn the skills needed to support themselves and break the cycle of poverty.

In its 42 years of operation, Don Bosco City has served 83,000 boys and girls. It began in 1965 with 125 children, and today serves more than 1,500 children, youth and families per year.

Deliver Food

The Limited Excess Property Program (LEPP) makes it possible for millions of dollars in excess property to be utilized in dozens of developing countries (vehicles, computers, x-ray machines).

Salesian Missions provides the much-needed infrastructure and knowledge to deliver essential supplies to those in need in Colombia and around the globe.

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