FEATURE STORY

With Juanes’ Foundation, Colombian Youth Seek a more Peaceful Society

December 14, 2012


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Sebastian Alvarez, 13, thinks that the project is about “creating people that have the capacity to forgive, to love, to discuss and to communicate amongst them.”

Isabelle Schäfer/World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Through arts and culture and different methodologies, the Mi Sangre Foundation interacts with young Colombians in problematic areas.
  • The projects of Mi Sangre, with which the World Bank has a partnership, benefited 5935 children and youth during 2011.
  • Young participants already see a change in their environment.

Sebastian Alvarez, 13, found out he had a passion through writing workshops. “I like writing about everything. Normally I focus on novels, focused on my environment. I also like writing poems. And chronicles,” he says.

He has been participating for two years in cultural activities, organized by the Mi Sangre Foundation, founded by the famous Colombian singer Juanes. Through arts and culture, and one of the Foundation’s methodologies “Pazalobien” – a word game between the expression “have a good time” and “peace”, the organization interacts with young students in problematic areas of Antioquia and other regions.

Sebastian for example is from the Comuna 13, one of the most districts most affected by violence of Medellin, the second largest city of Colombia and a name that reminds most people in and out of this country of urban violence and high crime rates. Although the situation is still not ideal, things are getting better.

Sebastian remembers that two years ago, it was very common to see students fighting almost every day. Now, he says, it is a little better, and more try to deal with conflict by dialoguing.

He explains that the project is not only about painting or writing, but also about “creating people that have the capacity to forgive, to love, to discuss and to communicate amongst them.”

For him, the objective of Mi Sangre Foundation’s project is no less than a social transformation. “You can already see it in my community. With very simple aspects, like that the ambiance is better in school and in the neighborhood,” he says.


" You can already see [the social transformation] in my community. With very simple aspects, like that the ambiance is better in school and in the neighborhood "

Sebastian Alvarez

13 years old

Almost 6000 children and youth benefited

The projects of Mi Sangre, with which the World Bank has a partnership, benefited 5935 children and youth during 2011. But with their methodology “learning by doing”, the objective is that these young men and women become themselves active leaders in their communities, according to its annual report. Taking this into account, the Foundation estimates that it reached almost 37,000 Colombians.

This partnership is important for the World Bank, as it believes that by joining efforts with other key actors in the country, like the Mi Sangre Foundation, the results might be greater than if it was acting alone.

“A strong transformative energy”

“They are the ones that have the capacity to rewrite Colombia’s history,” says Catalina Cock, Executive Director of the Foundation, on why they work with youth. “They have a very strong transformative energy. And if it is not canalized the right way, it can go other ways, but if it is adequately canalized, it can have a very profound transformative effect.”

Since the start of their activities in 2006, they implemented different methodologies. These include psychosocial accompaniment of conflict victims or youth from a violence background, so as to heal the wounds of the past, and “education for peace”, seeking to transform young people into agents of change that can, in their turn, work in their communities to foment dialogue and peace.

The World Bank is accompanying the Foundation within the technical side of consolidating their methodology, helping them to improve their planning process to respond to different demands and measuring the impact of their interventions.

Bringing in global expertise and best practices from around the world, this support from the World Bank is part of its larger engagement with Colombia on education and creating better opportunities for youth.

Apart from writing, Sebastian says they have participated in graffiti and music workshops. “In the future, I could see myself giving literature and writing workshops to those who don’t have access to them,” he explains. But his big dream? “I would like to be President of Colombia, so I can help my country,” he says. And his biggest? “Start to change the world. It is not impossible.”


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