First Visit to Fundación Niños de Los Andes

Greetings from Bogotá, Colombia!

Here I am, updating you with the beginning of my Design education experience, as I try to fight what seems to be either a cold or an allergy to the Bogotanian pollution.

I arrived Bogotá on Monday June 6th at 11:30 pm, had a day to rest and today headed to two of the houses belonging to the Fundacion Niños de Los Andes. My first stop was the emergency center called Casa Corazones where I met with Martha Gozalez the Coordinator of two of the foundation’s emergency centers. She explained to me that the emergency centers were places where male teenagers stoped for a temporary period of ten days as a way to enter a rehabilitation program from being in the streets. She also made clear that most of these teenagers had problems related with substances. According to Martha, the emergency centers’ goal is to provide initial protection to these kids that is health services, food and housing. After ten days, some kids leave the house to go back to the streets, others are reintegrated to continue the temporal rehabilitation process, and some are taken to permanent centers where they begin a rigorous therapy. After introducing me to many of the educators, social workers and even cooks, she took me to where the kids were playing.

I was incredible nervous about meeting the kids I was going to have under my wing and to whom I was going to introduce to the world of design. When I saw them, they looked vulnerable and sweet at the same time. They were playing soccer under supervision of their teacher Diego. I saw many of them had beautiful bracelets, and Martha and Diego told me that the kids made those bracelets themselves. With authorization, I was able to take a few pics of those bracelets.

Manillas weaved by kids

Kids showing their manillas

They were quite excited about having me taking pictures of their “manillas”. They also asked me what was I going to be teaching them. After I told them Design, they got happy and started asking me if I could teach them how to take photographs as well. Of course I will!

Martha suggested me to focus on transcending from the idea of creating a product to the idea of sensibilizing the teenagers. She made me aware that my work could be therapeutic, and I could help them become aware that by staying in the program they could have better dreams for themselves. Finally she made emphasis in the importance of collecting their opinion on the workshops, that way I could make changes accordingly.

Tomorrow I’ll be back at the house to prepare materials and see what I need to buy, and thanks to all the donations I have received, I will be able to buy what’s necessary, important and even exiting for them. Again Muchas Gracias for all your help.

See you next week with an overview of the beginning of the workshops.

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