Living in Medellin, Colombia for six months, I was invited to go volunteer at a remote center of a social program by a local friend. That’s how I first met Sabine, my new friend and the Program Director at The Children of Medellin, and see firsthand what they do.
The trip alone was no joke, as the community of Bello Oriente is the highest in all of greater Medellin, up snaking, winding streets then alleys then dirt paths on the mountain rim of central Medellin below. Bello Oriente is also one of the most dangerous and poorest neighborhoods in all of Medellin, shut off and largely left behind.
For residents, running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity are luxuries for many, as well as a home that isn’t in danger of landslides every time there’s a heavy rain. For the children of this community, there’s little hope and few opportunities, as most fall prey to gangs, drugs, early pregnancy, prostitution, and crime. Within the community, few adults have education or even access to jobs or medical care, so the cycle continues.
Volunteering there for a half-day, I got to experience the program center in a large, refurbished house with classrooms, gardens, computer labs, a media center, music lessons, job skills, one of the best views of the city below, and, of course, a soccer field.
In fact, futbol (soccer) was how the charity started back in the 1990s, when one man from The Netherlands decided to create a social program to help poor and disadvantaged within the city he discovered while traveling, using the game he loved to bring in the kids and build something special.
Now, The Children of Medellin is thriving, helping hundreds and hundreds of kids and families every year. Bello Oriente is still poor, dangerous, and plagued with social problems, but now there’s a clear path out to a better life.
In this podcast, I sit down with Sabine, a long-time program worker and advocate from The Netherlands, as we talk about the history of The Children of Medellin, the community they fight so hard to help, and her gritty and beautiful human experiences along the way.
Enjoy this podcast with Sabine and I encourage you to find out more about The Children of Medellin and make a donation to support their important work!
The Children of Medellin??