Colombia

IOM Strengthens Private Sector Links to Improve Quality of Life for Mobile, Vulnerable Colombians

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IOM Colombia and Colpatria Bank have embarked on a partnership that aims to improve the quality of life of vulnerable Colombians through education, recreation, sports, art, culture and the environment.

IOM has been working with the private sector in Colombia for the past five years as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy to engage businesses and other entities in projects with vulnerable populations.

Some of the areas in which the private sector provides financial, technical and other forms of support include assistance for victims of conflict, prevention of child recruitment, and reintegration of demobilized people into society.

Aurela Hoxha, IOM Project Development Coordinator in Colombia, said: “These projects reflect increasingly innovative public-private partnerships and the active engagement of companies with vulnerable communities.”

The IOM/Colpatria partnership has so far yielded two projects implemented by IOM with funding from Colpatria Bank.

The first is the Youth Peacebuilders project, which seeks to strengthen environments such as schools and youth organizations that provide services, protection, and other support to 600 children, adolescents and youth aged between 7 and 17 in Potrero Grande, a neighborhood in the city of Cali in the south-western department of Valle de Cauca.

Of the total of the more than 6.3 million victims of the armed conflict in Colombia, approximately half are women and a third are youth under 18 years of age. This includes victims of forced displacement who are vulnerable to various forms of violence, particularly women and children. Minors are especially at risk of recruitment by illegal armed groups.

The Potrero Grande neighborhood was built for displaced and other vulnerable families, including a large number of families who were resettled from the banks of the Rio Cauca, where they faced risks of floods or landslides.

The Youth Peacebuilders project is supported by the Alvaralice Foundation and the Familia Ayara and World Coach Colombia foundations, whose support will include the provision of expertise in the use of methodologies that were jointly implemented with IOM.

The Alvaralice Foundation is the lead implementing partner, while the other foundations will focus on strengthening protective environments through the use of sports activities (World Coach) and arts and cultural activities (Familia Ayara).

As a part of this project, an art school will be established within the Technological and Cultural Center (Tecnocentro), the only space in the neighborhood that offers cultural and training activities for the local community.

Another project funded by Colpatria Bank will support income generation for vulnerable women heads of household in Tierrabomba, an island near the city of Cartagena de Indias, in the northern department of Bolivar.

This project will take advantage of the participants’ existing skills and empower the women by training them in productive activities to generate income, which is essential for alleviating poverty in this community of 4,500 individuals.

Support for this project is provided by the Office of the Mayor of Cartagena, the Puerto Bahia Foundation, the organization Escuela Taller and community representatives. IOM’s Development Fund provided seed funding to establish its feasibility and support preparatory activities.

About the IOM partners involved in these two projects:

  • The Bright Future Strategy of Banco Colpatria Multibanca focuses on social programs for the community;
  • The Alvaralice Foundation is a private non-profit founded in 2003 in Cali which contributes to the consolidation of a peaceful society;
  • Escuela Taller or the Cartagena School Workshop is a training center where young people in vulnerable situations are trained in traditional trades;
  • The Puerto Bahia Foundation concentrates on local development of communities in the Bay of Cartagena de Indias;
  • The Ayara Family Foundation of young Afro-Colombians and mestizos is engaged in social, cultural and business activities;
  • World Coach is a leader in training in school-community settings.

For more information, please contact Daniel Fernandez at IOM Colombia, Email: dfernandez@iom.int, Tel: 6397777 Ext. 1219

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