I feel like my heart has been torn out of my chest.
We have been volunteering here in on the north coast of Colombia for nearly two weeks. As well as helping in the school each day we are also filming a mini documentary for our new Five Point Five project.
The first week we were interested in learning as much about the foundation as possible. Who it was that we were to feature in our video, the heart of the foundation. So we went each day to one of the two little schools and helped out in our halting Spanglish with maths, English, art, games and sports.
The afternoon school is in a slum about 15 minutes from the city. There is no public transport there and so the cost of going to the city ($3 for a taxi) is so prohibitive that people don’t. Most taxi drivers raise their eyebrows when we tell them our destination each day. Some refuse to drive in and just drop us at the entrance, some refuse to go in that direction at all.
The moment we arrive we are swamped by the kids. Gorgeous, energetic kids, all smiles, hugs and playful banter. They walk us to school down the muddy, rubbish lined street. They are naughty and fun and loud and eager to learn. This is supposed to be an afternoon top up program but the reality is that some of these kids don’t have morning school. There is no money nor motivation for their parents to send them.
Tonight I got a reality check. It’s 7:30pm and I am eating dinner with John and the director, Oscar. When he was ten Oscar ended up on the streets and we have been slowly eeking out his story with our limited language. As a homeless youngster he watched hundreds of other kids go crazy with drugs and made a decision that he was not going to try them.
That one decision has shaped his life, and now he is dedicated to offering education to the kids in the slums, hoping to help these kids improve their chances of a decent life.
The reality for these gorgeous kids is that many of them will never leave the slum. There is a thirteen year old who is not sure who the father of her unborn baby is. There are three boys who are outstandingly talented at football but will never have a team to play with or shoes to train in. Most of the kids do not get enough meals. They are innocent but they know too much.
With each conversation with Oscar the enormity of the situation becomes more apparent:
“Drugs is a huge problem as the kids who start young are mostly impossible to rehabilitate”
“Lots of young girls end up in prostitution”
“Many of the kids will be drugged and/or sexually abused”
Some of the kids at school are pretty special, and I mentioned one such boy to Oscar. He is eleven and talented at football, he is incredibly smart and keen to learn. He is the kind of kid who is a good influence on the others, a boy who shines innocently with promise.
Oscar shook his head sadly, “his family is really poor, his mother is pretty crazy and has a new baby every year. He already has a huge number of siblings and his older brothers are all heavily into drugs.
Reality hits. I am overcome with emotion. I manage to fight back the tears until I get home.
Many of the kids that we are falling in love with have little hope for the future.
Many of them will not get the education or support they need to leave the slum.
Many of them will not escape the alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and abuse in their homes and on every street corner.
For these kids Oscar and the volunteer teachers here are truly their only hope.
The ridiculous things is that the foundation only needs $7,000 to finish one of their two schools.
Only $7,000 and they can finish the construction that has laid dormant for the last six months due to lack of funds. They need to build another classroom, toilets and connect electricity to the street so that they can use fans to combat the heat.
The maths are not hard, 140 people give $50 and voila! a school is complete that will affect the lives of hundreds of kids who could potentially be the next Oscar.
This is the bit that I am not very good at, but the reality of life for these kids means my own discomfort in asking you for money becomes unimportant. So, I am asking you to please contribute to the school!
Whether you can afford $5 or $10 or $100 or more. Never in my life has the term “every bit counts” meant so much. Even if you are broker-than-broke you can hopefully afford $5.
This is my mission. To attempt to raise as much of the $7,000 as possible in the next 14 days so that we can leave the money with them before we go.
Two small actions to make a big difference…
- Please contribute here financially, if you can’t use a credit card or Paypal contact me for bank details.
- Also share this on Facebook, Twitter and ask your community to give too, lets show these kids that the grown ups of the world really do care.
UPDATE: Since I posted this we have already had $1480 donated towards the $7,000! Also it has been shared ALOT by so many of you. Thank you so much, please keep it up! I really think we could possibly make it or get really close!
As a thanks for reading this far here are some snaps from the schools over the last two weeks.