We're continuing this week's focus on some of Pier32's clients with a look at the charity Children Of The Andes.
They've been working since 1991 to help the street children of Colombia, who face poverty and violence on a daily basis. Thanks to Children Of The Andes, thousands of kids have been provided with the support, education and healthcare they need to build happier lives.
Initially set-up as a fund-raising venture, it became clear to the charity that, despite funneling millions of pounds in grants to Colombian projects, money alone wasn't the answer. A field office was set up in 2005, to help the people on the ground with skills like financial management and planning. Working more closely with these local groups, Children Of The Andes are now more in touch than ever with the shifting sands of policy change and local government peccadilloes that effect vulnerable children.
Children Of The Andes are the largest UK charity working exclusively in Colombia. They've sent almost £5 million in grants, helping tens and thousands of children at risk.
By supporting projects that help street kids to return and reintegrate with their families, and getting working children out of the factory and into a school, Children Of The Andes are making a real difference to the lives of thousands of the marginalised and vulnerable that would otherwise end up in the gutter. Quite literally: the spark that started the whole enterprise was a project to help street kids who were living in the sewers of Bogotà.
The focus and mission are clear. Children Of The Andes believe that education, making communities safe for children, supporting their families and preparing them for adult life are vitally important to bringing up healthy and happy adults. It's a complex job with many factors to take into consideration, from the economic situation of their family to the quality of local schools to the protection they can expect to recieve from the police. Working with kids is never easy, and the children of Colombia present a particularly tricky challenge. But there is hope, and the rewards are undeniably worth the effort.
For more on Children Of The Andes, check out their website: http://www.childrenoftheandes.org/
And if you want to donate, you can do so quickly and easily at their Virgin Money Giving page: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/cota
Pier32 have provided Children Of The Andes with Starworld t-shirts, the ever-popular SW350 Cool Tee. Here's a pic of them in use in Colombia.