Close

Stories from the Journey:

“With forty-five cases of COVID-19 infections, Villa Esperanza is located in the municipality of Malambo, [Colombia]. It’s a community with lots of needs. Things are very hard. Most of the time people don’t consistently have food to eat. That’s why we delivered food as well as other supplies like soap, hand sanitizer and face masks,” says Liliana, a member of the Urban Mosaic Colombia team. “It was very moving how the youth wanted to participate in the project. “

According to DANE  (National Department of Statistics for Colombia), the Colombian Caribbean coast has the highest poverty rate in the country, with 41.8% of its inhabitants in a vulnerable situation. Malambo is a community on the south side of Barranquilla, where Urban Mosaic began working in May of 2019.  “Right now we are very excited to be able to help this community overcome the economic, social and emotional obstacles and barriers caused by COVID- 19,” comments Executive Director Juan Sierra.  “We’ve been working with the Mayor’s Office in Malambo which implemented social solidarity and biosecurity measures to increase the emotional support among neighbors; making the recovery of COVID-19 patients a little easier, and opening a path of hope and life in the face of death.”

Executive Director Juan Sierra and his wife Carolina

Since officially incorporating the Urban Mosaic team in Colombia in 2019, about 170 young people have joined the Youth & Children Agents of Change (ACJI) Program.  These are young people facing problems like domestic violence, drug addition and gangs who, through ACJI, are now focused on personal growth and becoming agents of change in their communities. In non-pandemic times, these young people are involved in Urban Mosaic sports projects, cultural activities, youth camps, discipleship / training on values and life skills. The youth also carry out seed projects such as cleaning up streets and recuperating a sports field.

Urban Mosaic Colombia Community Leaders

We have been continually amazed and inspired by the ACJI youth in Malambo. Last year, through Urban Mosaic’s intervention and work with young people and community leaders we were able to recover a school that had been closed and abandoned due to constant burglary, threats and harassment of teachers by local criminal gangs. The team began using the school as a community space for homework clubs and other activities, specifically reaching truant and delinquent kids who had dropped out of school for various reasons. We also started using the school as a space for training and leadership meetings, strengthening civil society and deepening discipleship.

“The ACJI Project is one of the most impressive strategies of Urban Mosaic Colombia because it guides at risk young people to build their own path and follow their dreams despite the adversities that life puts in front of them,” says Juan.

 

With four full time staff, the Urban Mosaic team in Colombia is much smaller than the team in Mexico. On top of that, the government’s pandemic restrictions are much more strict in Colombia than Mexico’s regulations. But that hasn’t stopped the Colombia team from achieving a lot. Since the pandemic began, a core group of 50 leaders have participated in trainings, the distribution of face masks,  psychosocial and spiritual development processes, and also the delivery of food baskets. Currently the team is focused on food security projects and economic development for these leaders.

 

Even in the midst of the pandemic the youth have been eager to help. “We know at Urban Mosaic Colombia that the best way to move forward with the youth is through reflection, dialogue and action.  We are very happy to be able to reach these young people with concrete projects such as the formation of life skills, sports and the creation of youth culture. In this way we make it possible for young people, faced with great uncertainty and little hope, to grow and develop,” states Juan.