Facilitating educational communities for children at risk in North-Eastern Colombia

May 31, 2009

Pastoral Social, a branch of Caritas International, will establish educational centers to provide a safe environment for children to study and enjoy the delights of growing up.

Families living in conflict areas of Colombia, live in constant fear of being targeted by rebel or paramilitary groups, but in particular that their children may be abducted to fight or serve the soldiers. This creates serious tensions and affects the children’s education.
According to reliable non-governmental sources, the protracted internal armed conflict in Colombia has displaced up to 4 million people. In the last two years the humanitarian crisis has worsened as people are displaced from their homes and their freedom of movement restricted by the use of landmines and military lines.

Pastoral Social has been working in the Colombia since 1967. In 2008 UNHCR invited Pastoral Social to work with them in the Arauca region of North East Colombia.

The specific goal of this project is to prevent the forced recruitment of minors into armed groups and foster the development of peaceful communities:

  • Creating educational communities for peace encouraging a strong democratic culture amongst the students,
  • Promoting the peaceful settlement of conflicts, taking a psychological approach to handle the consequences of the humanitarian crisis, and
  • Re-establishing the right to education thus reducing susceptibility to exploitation.

The beneficiaries will be young students from areas of high unrest (426); young people with no schooling (number still to be determined) and educators (219) – all from rural areas.

This project will give parents more peace of mind and will strengthen the community in terms of dealing with the trauma of conflict and displacement themselves.