Through a sponsor- and donor-supported program in Cali, Colombia, children attend free daycare while their mothers attend parenting classes, learn life skills and receive job training — helping them grow strong, stable and empowered to better support their children.
Cali is a lush and vibrant city home to over 2 million people in southwest Colombia. But like many developing countries, Colombia — and Cali — has two sides. In one neighborhood where sponsors support children, wealthy landowners live side by side with an unlicensed, makeshift community that sprung up during the war to accommodate rural, indigenous families displaced by the violence.
To protect their children, many families fled their farms in the neighboring state of Cauca, and settled here behind a wall topped with broken glass that divides them from their wealthy neighbors.
Today, some of these families still live without running water, a sewer system or any public services. Many of them had no way to earn a living when they first arrived, and struggled to provide food and education for their children. Some are young parents who dropped out of school early to care for their babies. But as these young couples arrived, our local partner began an outreach campaign — offering services like free, sponsor-supported daycare where their children would receive a critical early education and a safe place to go while their parents worked during the day.
With the support of sponsors, our partner sought to empower young mothers with personal development and job skills training, helped them finish high school, and provided positive parenting trainings to teach them about nutrition, hygiene and to help them move away from the violent dynamics that many of them grew up with and that their families internalized during the war. Behind the wall of broken glass, these families have grown gardens, built homes and created a thriving community. Most of all, their children are thriving, because of sponsors and donors like you.
Empowering Women and Children in Colombia
“To see my daughter, how she started and how she is doing now, she has learned so many things. They are helping me also as a mom […] I grew up with my parents but it was a very difficult living. They had problems, they used to fight a lot. I would like to give my children my best example so they won’t have to go through the same thing that I did. I would love to give them everything. That’s why I want to study, prepare myself. So they will have a better quality of life.”
— Diana, whose 3-year-old daughter attends the sponsor-supported daycare program. Diana is now working to earn her high school diploma. She migrated to Cali from Cauca.
“This [program] helps people like me so much that don’t have the means to give our children a good education and to feed them well. Thank you with all my heart. May God help you to keep sharing yourselves in this beautiful work and I hope you continue to help people like us, kids that need it very much, and thank you so much for offering us this wonderful support.”
— Kelly, whose 3-year-old son attends the sponsor-supported daycare program. If not for the help she received, Kelly says that she and her children would have had to move back to Cauca. She hopes to attend nurse’s assistant training with sponsor support.
“I have learned many, many things. I went to the personal development workshops […] Before, I didn’t really trust myself. I felt that I was not capable of anything. But through the program, I gained confidence. And my daughter has changed a lot. Everything they teach her, she learns. Everything.”
— Lina, whose 5-year-old daughter attends the sponsor-supported daycare program. Lina came to Cali from a port city called Buena Ventura, which like Cauca was one of the most dangerous places in Colombia during the war. With support from sponsors, she is now attending classes to become an administrative assistant.
“They have evolved a lot. Little things like looking you in the eyes. When they come the first time, they are very shy and don’t look you in the eyes and are unable to talk to you about the problems. But then they’re able to talk about them and recognize that there’s a problem […] They’re worrying about their children and want the best for them. They know the importance of their children having an education, that they receive love, and that they are affectionate with them. It’s not just giving them food. It’s more than that.”
— Ana González, staff psychologist at Holt’s local partner who helps the families in the sponsor-supported program work toward stability and self-reliance, and successfully parent their children.
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