Saturday, March 24, 2012

Colombia Part 1

CDA Head Office
Monday afternoon I flew from Guatemala to Bogota, Colombia for a 4 day workshop related to my work with AMG.  The flight was uneventful and quite short.  It was a 20 minute hop from Guatemala City to San Salvador and from there it was a 2 and a half hour flight to Bogota.  I arrived close to midnight and it was cloudy so I was not able to see a whole lot of the city as we were descending.  
We spent Tuesday visiting 3 of the projects of CDA Colombia so I was able to see a good part of the city and the area north west of the city.  CDA is a Christian organization that receives funding from Word and Deed Canada and Woord en Daad Nederland.  I was invited to come to Colombia by Woord en Daad Holland to take part in a few workshops and exercises on PMEL which is related to my position and work at AMG.
As mentioned I spent Tuesday visiting a number of projects.  We first were welcomed at the CDA office which is in a historic part of downtown Colombia.  The architecture in this part of the city is European so I felt like I was in Europe. After the welcome and a devotional we visited the first project which was a vocational training center.  At this center students from all ages can come to learn a vocation like baking, beautician (hair stylists, manicurists, etc), jeweler, web page design, computers, and sewing.  After that we went to former CDA school that was recently converted into a community center.  This was also interesting to see.  It is similar to what AMG Guatemala does in the sense that it is an after school program where kids go to the local public school, but after classes they come to the center to receive help with their homework, spiritual guidance, and some vocational training like baking.  
Could be Chilliwack!
In the afternoon we drove some 2 hours through the beautiful country side to a protection home for abused girls. The scenery and the weather reminded me BC and Holland.  Many of the girls at the home, if not all, are victims of some sort of sexual abuse.  This abuse comes in the form of the actual physical sexual abuse or being exposed to explicit sexual content.  What one needs to remember is that many children live in homes that house several families.  Each family might all sleep in one room so kids often witness adults having intercourse.  I asked the director what the hardest thing for her is working with these girls and she said that these girl are not innocent anymore.  These girls have lost their innocence because of what they have experienced or seen.  These girls do not have an imagination or are not able to dream.  The director said that when she tells these girls a fairytale they usually say that the story can not be true.  This of course is true, but most children at that age have a wild imagination and "believe" fairytales.  The age of the almost 50 girls at the home range from 6-15 years old, although the majority of them young girls.  It is sad to see.  Having said that they are now in a safe environment and are receiving psychological and spiritual help. They are also sent to local schools in the area to receive an education. One of the things that impacted me was that even though these girls have been abused they still want to receive affection from people that visit the project. It was hard to leave since they did not want to let us go and constantly wanted a hug. I have noticed the same thing in Guatemala that many of the abused kids crave affection.  Please pray for the children in countries like Colombia and Guatemala.  Many are victims of abuse and that is why also at AMG we are making a real effort to intervene when made aware of abuse. Pray also for AMG and CDA as they are faced with many challenges and dangers in the fight against child abuse.
The Director of the Protection Home