2019 Donation of Recreational Equipment at El Tunal, Santa Fe de Antioquia

We are proud to announce that Promising Growth donated recreational equipment to the school at El Tunal, a school that supports eighteen children between the ages of five and eleven in Santa Fe de Antioquia. The school was reopened in October 2018. The population in that Aldea is growing, and new children have been arriving consistently.

The Importance of Adding Organized Physical Activity to their School Day

To help children develop habits that will last a lifetime, an active, healthy lifestyle must start early in life. Physical activity has benefits at every age, and helps kids improve their mood and self-esteem, and do better in school.

In addition to multiple soccer balls, basketballs, jump ropes, cones, wooden puzzles, and hula hoops, we were also able to secure a new projector and projector screen.



Donated 75 School Kits to Rural School Children

In 2017, we learned about a group of families struggling to attain school supplies for their children. They needed what's known in Colombia as a standard "kit escolar" or school kits. We looked into costs and through a connection in Medellin were able to secure the supplies at a deep discount. This allowed our budget to double the number of kits we had the budget for.

Typical school kits include:

- Notebook carrying case
- Four notebooks for different classes
- Dictionary
- Ruler
- Crayons
- Colored pencils
- Erasers
- Box pencils

In addition to the required school supplies, we added coloring books for the kids!

The school kits were distributed to the children in el barrio (the neighborhood) La Maquea. Those kids and their siblings were treated to a small party, where our family presented the donation. The kids really enjoyed the party, and as excited as they were about their school kits, many of them were more interested in listening to our family speak in English to each other.

The remainder of the school kits were distributed to COLORESA, a foundation that supports special needs children in Santa Fe de Antioquia.

Our mission is to continue to provide school kits directly to underserved populations. Our team secures all of the supplies and personally delivers them. Donations go exactly where you expect them to go.

Empowering Women to Create Sustainability

Our First Project Provided Six Months of Sustainable Income Opportunities

Rural communities struggle to create new income streams when traditional labor is no longer available. This is particularly difficult in male-dominated societies where women are not expected to be the breadwinners. This is what happened in the village of Olaya, located outside of Santa Fe de Antioquia, near Medellin, Colombia. Men traditionally created income through farming, but climate change severely affected their ability to farm coffee at volume. Lucky for Olaya, a local priest communicated this issue to a doctor in the city of Medellin, and she jumped into action.

Dr. Beatriz was the creative hand behind the company Fique, a social good company helping train women how to handmake handbags. Beatriz had already seen this project work; Fique's first major project started with helping those that were displaced from their homes due to the guerilla conflict in “La Comuna Noriental” of Medellin. These people were forced out of their homes and into other areas. There, Beatriz taught 45 women how to knit and they continued supporting their families through this work by selling the goods at local arts and crafts shows.

Her only ask for Olaya? That the entire community learns the new trade (not just the men). It was her personal mission to ensure that women were equally involved in solving the community's issues. She offered to teach the entire village how to knit and work with leather to create handbags from fique.

The Doctor Makes House Calls

When the project started, Beatriz would get dropped off on the side of a dirt road where the villagers met her on horseback. After at least an hour's ride up the side of steep mountains, she'd spend weekends teaching them how to make the handmade handbags from hemp fibers or rope (fique). The project started with just a few families and within a few months was able to support over 60 artisan families. After a few months, one family taught the next, and Beatriz' goal was to eventually only visit to teach new designs, deliver materials, and distribute the handbags they made back to the city of Medellin for further distribution.

While Beatriz was excited about the new work she was providing to this Aldea, she was also scraping for local support to help fund materials. That's when someone recommended she talk to me, a Colombian-born entrepreneur interested in giving back.

Promising Growth Provided Machinery, Materials and Distribution

Well, I wasn't exactly local support, was I! But we were exactly what we were looking for! At that time, I was dealing with some really tough personal health issues. I needed this project to keep my mind busy, and they needed me. After all, the more women on deck- the better!

We committed to raise the necessary funds to expand their venture. We donated two industrial leather sewing machines and enough materials for approximately six months of continuous labor. The project was launched in December 2008 and provided over 275 days of fairly paid labor to the artisans of Olaya. After the handbags were delivered back to Medellin, we imported them to New Jersey and sold them online.

Promising Growth also contributed clothing and other equipment to help the families in the village.   I was lucky enough to visit their small village after we kicked off the project. I was hooked by the passion and commitment of the families in Olaya. Thanks to their dedication and deep gratitude, I knew there was no way this would be one-time project. We changed their lives and to be honest, they changed mine.

One-year later I had my baby. The "fique" inventory room was turned into a nursery and my US-based start-ups needed my full attention. The families of Fique had succeeded and were now self-sufficient. Promising Growth was put on hold. I moved on, but stay in touch with Beatriz to hear about the ongoing success we created, now almost ten years and running.

Dr. Beatriz, a local artisan, and Marcela Shine at the Aldea of El Percal

Investing Donated Dollars to Projects in Colombia that Keep Giving

Although the Olaya project was critical to the well-being of many families, we have since focused our efforts on helping children directly. There is one takeaway from Olaya that continues to be critical to what we do; we want our donations to help more than one person. We want them to keep on giving.

The school improvements, parks, and even supplies we provide don't just help ONE child. These changes will affect kids year after year, particularly the parks or play areas that we create at the schools. One parent from our most recent project told me that he went to the same exact schoolhouse where his child is now attending. That school has had some changes over time; improved bathrooms, the addition of a kitchen and a better roof. But they never had what he considers "excessive luxuries". Imagine? Thinking that soccer balls and extra recreational equipment is a luxury? Together, we can do so much and the dollars we need aren't excessive at all.

Work with us to help make a difference. Because, let's face it - for Colombia, united is better! Join the Colombia United team in making all of this possible.