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Education and employment in Cali, Colombia

Kiwanis Foundation identified La Sirena rural settlement as a priority area and wanted to address education at early childhood. In this program, early childhood refers to the first six years of life. Thus the Kiwanis Foundation was interested in starting a school (kindergarten) in La Sirena. Kiwanis initiated their program by conducting a study in the area to identify the most vulnerable women and family and the children from these families were prioritized for the school initiative.

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Logo of Kiwanis Foundation

Thereafter the Kiwanis donated a piece of land in La Sirena. The land also had an abandoned house which was in poor conditions. Kiwanis renovated the house. The house is small, and can hold not more than a small office and a small kitchen. The organisation also constructed a classroom, which is an open space with no physical walls.

The kindergarten opened in May 2014 and welcomed the first 25 children. The children are welcome from Monday to Friday , from 7 am to 4 pm. Two teachers and one person for surveillance are hired and their salaries are paid through the Kiwanis Foundation funds. Lunch and two snacks are provided for each child on a daily basis.

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The Kindergarten is renovated from an abandoned house by Kiwanis Foundation in La Sirena

Although the kindergarten has already started, the physical conditions are not appropriate as it does not comply with the Colombian Educational Legislation. Washrooms are required, even if designed to address only minor needs and as well as classrooms with physical walls, that allow protection from the different weather conditions and animals. We must also arrange with a physical space where children can rest (small children need to take at least one nap throughout the day). In addition we plan to construct additional classrooms in order to increase the school capacity from the 25 to 50 children, as it is 50 children that have been identified as vulnerable in the initial survey of La Sirena.

Generation of income for the mothers

The initial survey in La Sirena also identified the mothers of the children in the program as Target partners. The women informs us that they need education and employment to be able to improve their quality of life. To support the women’s initiatives and Alliance was established and a collaboration initiated with Comunidad San Simon Stock. Comunidad San Simon Stock is an the organisation which offers handicraft and sewing training on a voluntary basis.

The trainings started on April 15, 2014 and was held on Saturdays. The program benefits from arranging the training in the same classroom as had been constructed by Kiwanis for the Kindergarten. Therefore, additional classrooms for children would also allow more training courses and a larger number of women could be trained. The larger and better venue could also be used for conferences on specific topics relevant for the women. In addition to the need for an improved venue, more and better tools are required. As a result of being run by volunteers the tools available for the training are basic tools only. However, to be able to start formal businesses more advanced tools are required.

Conclusion

In summary, the program has been initiated and has high quality given the circumstances. The Kiwanis staff and San Simon Stock trainers and professional and ambitious. It is an honour for Action10 to be collaborating with these organisations.

 

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