Monday, March 26, 2012

Colombia Part 2

In my previous blog I wrote about the first days of my visit to CDA Colombia.  I spent the next 3 days in meetings and exercises in data collection and monitoring. As organizations we want to collect data in order to be able to improve or change our programs. The data should influence how we run our programs.  I learned a lot during those three days and it was good to share with my peers of CDA Colombia our experiences, struggles, frustrations and successes.  We could also share tools that will make our organizations stronger and more professional.  On Friday morning we visited a school of CDA in one of the slums of Bogota. We spent the first part of the morning visiting different classrooms and interacting with students.  We were also part of a short interview on a student run radio station that operates out of the school and is used to broadcast to the school and if necessary to the whole community.  The rest of the morning was spent looking at how the school collects data and information. It was neat to see that the school still had the information from when it began some 19 years earlier. They still have the original enrollment forms and the grades of the students who attended during that time. The school also keeps track of the students who graduate for one year to see how they are doing. This kind of information is important because it is a way of measure the impact you have in the life of individuals, families, and communities. 
Since I was in Colombia for business and not pleasure I was not able to do much sight seeing except for when we saw the projects.  However, on the last evening we went by gondola up 700 meters to a Catholic Church which sits high on a mountain top overlooking the city of Bogota.  The elevation was almost 3,200 meters or 10,000 feet. The view was absolutely breathtaking. On the one side you could see the city of Bogota the home of some 8,000,000 people while on the other side you could look off into the Andes mountains.  It was quite the contrast.  
On Saturday morning at 6:00am I boarded my plane to go back to Guatemala. At 9:30 I was back in Guatemala and reunited again with Lia and the kids.  I chose an early flight so that I could be back in time to see the drama that Nico and Ellen were involved in.  I will write about that another time.  I am grateful for the opportunity I had to visit Colombia and be a part of the exercises and workshops. It was a beneficial time for me.