The start of a new journey

Colombia Wednesday, 22 May 2024
The start of a new journey

A welcome celebration marked the entrance of 14 new Grade 1 children into our Emmanuel Care Centre. They are the first cohort of up to 30 Grade 1 children who are enrolled into the centre each year, the excited five- and six-year-olds now receiving a life-changing education through our programme in Colombia.

As some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children in the town, the new Grade 1 kids come from complex homes, some even living in what the programme director Bibiana describes as ‘dysfunctional families’. Some of these children have been orphaned, abandoned or have parents working in other towns, and so live under the care of other guardians. But even for children living with both biological parents, life is not absent of hardship.

Children at the centre are amongst the 45% of Colombians living below the poverty line and are further disadvantaged by living in a rural area with little access to medical care, education and other social services. Without the support of the Emmanuel Care Centre these children are at risk of continuing the cycle of poverty they were born into.

At the centre the children are receiving educational support, nutritious food and access to healthcare, giving them the chance to thrive in their education and overcome their circumstances. So far, the children have been learning new sounds and words and working on their counting, a vital foundation to their early years’ education.

In only a few months Bibiana has seen the Grade 1 kids flourish, with quiet and timid children growing in confidence and embracing the new environment. "I like coming to the care centre because I can share time with my friends and learn fun things" said five-year-old Yeiko, who was amongst the newly enrolled kids.

In addition to the support the new cohort of children will receive, the centre will be working with guardians, empowering them through parenting classes, training and housing support so their kids have a safe and loving home environment where they will thrive.

As the children continue to settle in, they look forward to receiving sponsors, one of the most exciting elements of joining the centre. “When they enter the project, the first thing they ask is when they will write their first letter to their sponsor!” Bibiana explained, “Feeling the affection of sponsors through a letter or a treat is the greatest thing for them. They feel loved by someone special who is beginning to be part of their lives. A sponsor makes a big difference in the lives of our children.”

Grade 1 marks just the beginning of the kids’ Stand by Me journey, and with continued support, encouragement and love they can rise above their circumstances and one day stand on their own two feet.

Stand by... almost there...