After five decades of war, Colombia has just begun to emerge from a dark and brutal period in its history. In 2016, the government signed a peace treaty with the largest guerrilla group in Colombia, bringing an official end to an ideological civil war between the Colombian government, communist militants and paramilitary groups — groups that as the war went on became increasingly engaged in, and funded by, drug trafficking. During the conflict, over five thousand people were displaced from their homes, four times as many civilians as fighters died, and one in every three people killed was a child. To survive, many people got caught up in the crime and violence that the drug cartels and guerrillas brought to their communities — creating a cycle of neglect and abuse in families, and causing thousands of children to become permanently separated from their parents. But Colombians are incredibly resilient. And today, with the support of sponsors and donors like you, many children are going home to loving families through adoption, and many families have begun to heal — and to seek a happier, more hopeful future for their children.
Colombia has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Latin America, and most of the families that donors support in Colombia are young single mothers who had children in their teens. Through free daycare and preschool, personal development workshops, and job skills and parent training, sponsors and donors empower these young parents with the tools and resources they need to grow stable and self-reliant, and to help their children grow and thrive.
Across our Colombia programs, Holt strives to help children stay in the loving care of their families. But many children lost or were separated from their families during the war. For these children, Holt sponsors and donors help provide the highest quality care while we work to find for them a permanent, loving family — either through reunification or adoption.
Colombia is a resilient society with a known history of war and violence. However, whenever I visit Colombia, I see a country that exudes optimism about its future regardless of such a past. Approximately 24 percent of the population are children — children who are growing up in a culture that was tainted by the collective trauma of war, a trauma that now manifests as intra-family violence. Alongside local partners, Holt is now working to break and prevent this vicious cycle of violence, and provide healing for children and families impacted by five decades of war in Colombia. When Holt donors give to the Colombia program, they help support the important work of strengthening families, and providing a better, more hopeful future for children.
There are so many ways for you to advocate for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children in Colombia!