Medellín’s famous cable car goes higher and higher. The view becomes more beautiful, the center smaller and the slums high in the mountains get closer and closer. At the very top we get off. My namesake Sabine, who is also more or less from the same village as me but whom I met in Colombia, runs across the street to make the already packed buseta wait. Two Sabines can still be added. The bus crammed itself through the narrow steep street at breakneck speed even higher up the mountain. Actually it doesn’t fit at all, but we are in Colombia so with a lot of wriggling, wiggling and with help from people on the street it fits anyway. After half an hour, we arrive at the place where Sabine has been working for years: Children of Medellín Foundation. A place where hundreds of children from surrounding disadvantaged neighborhoods are guided toward a better future. Where you can volunteer or contribute in some other way. A place I am finally visiting after years. And which I’m going to tell you all about now.
Children of Medellín Foundation in Colombia
Although Colombia is a modern country where people with money live in luxury, there is also another side of the coin. In the poorer neighborhoods of larger cities, poverty, neglect, violence, addiction and sexual harassment are order of the day. A situation that millions of children grow up in and have difficulty getting out of.
Many aid organizations are active in Colombia to help children in poverty find a better future. With better education, learning skills and thus creating opportunities to escape from that predicament. One of these organizations is Children of Medellín, formerly Street Children Medellín.
The start of the foundation
In 2006, founder Eddy Veldhuisen began playing soccer with street children on the streets of Medellín. From the children themselves came the question to organize leagues. Yes, but under one condition: that the children would go to school and work on their future. And so in 2007, a foundation was born that would forever change the lives of many children in Medellín. Read here the whole story about the genesis of Children of Medellín.
What does Children of Medellín do?
Now, 15 years later, the foundation is working in the center of Medellín and in the suburbs of Carambolas and Bello Oriente with some 500 children. Their own accommodation El Paraiso (paradise) has now grown into a large house, located on the mountain with an amazingly beautiful view of the city. The house has a huge plot of land, on which, among other things, a multi-purpose sports field has been built.
Not only does El Paraiso provide support for the children and their families, the foundation also helps children study. In 2018, the first student graduated from college, followed by more. Currently, 12 young people are studying through the foundation, and this number will increase in the coming years.
The activities of the foundation
The foundation has divided its activities into 4 categories, through which they help children build a better future:
- Empowering families
The projects are divided into soccer, dance, recreation, music, journalism and board games. With this, children learn general skills through their favorite hobby.
Education is divided into reading and writing, computer science and English classes. These classes teach children specific skills to increase their chances of getting a job and studying well.
Through mentoring, youth receive additional support, such as leadership skills and activities specific to work and study. This helps young people find jobs or be able to study.
Supporting the community in which children grow up is just as important. The foundation does this within the empowerment families component. Through a bazaar, parent meetings and maintaining a vegetable garden, the entire community is involved in the children’s growth.
Read more about the activities of the foundation.
Join Children of Medellín
Do you want to do your part to help create a better future for poor children in Medellín? The foundation offers various opportunities to get involved and help out.
Do volunteer work in Medellín at the foundation
In recent years, Children of Medellín Foundation has become a well-known place to volunteer in Colombia. Or for students to do internships abroad.
By working at the foundation for a few months, you are helping to positively develop the children for a better future. In addition, the children love it when new volunteers come and the foundation could use extra hands. You can also volunteer for the foundation in the Netherlands. So you don’t have to travel all the way to Colombia for it.
Are you interested in doing volunteer work in Colombia or from the Netherlands, please contact the foundation here.
Always volunteer abroad with the right motives and avoid the white savior complex.
Become a friend of Children of Medellín
Everyone who supports the foundation is a friend of the foundation. As a friend, you will receive a newsletter in your mailbox every month. This way you can stay up to date with all the developments, read great stories and watch videos about their children. Want to stay informed? Then sign up here for the newsletter.
Support a child
Some children in the foundation have it even harder than others. That is why the foundation started the Support a Child project in 2019. You do this by making a monthly financial contribution to a specific child and his family. A wonderful way to help a child who really needs it and to closely follow the development of “your” child.
Your support helps a family tremendously. In cooperation with the trainer/teacher and the psychologist, the foundation determines which children could use extra help. The foundation maintains contact between you and the family you support, and so you follow their development closely.
There are currently 38 children in the Support a Child project.
Do you support child number 39? Contact here if this is what you want!
Help a child study
Good education is one of the most important foundations for building a better future. Unfortunately, for many Colombians, studying is not possible. This is why the foundation created the Study and Work activity. This gives young people the opportunity to pursue further education after high school. The foundation selects eligible young people. Because studying costs a lot of money, these young people depend on donations. You can help one of the children with a donation to attend college. Would you like this? Then contact them here .
Sponsor the soccer team
In Colombia, soccer is hugely important. Young or old, poor or rich, soccer lives in all strata of Colombian society. And so it is no different for the children at the foundation. How cool is it when you see one of these teams playing soccer with your company’s name on their shirts?
The La Naranja Mecánica project will play in the year 2023 with a total of 11 soccer teams.
Of course, the foundation keeps sponsors informed of soccer results. And they will be sent a nice team photo and possibly a uniform with their name.
Would you (with your company) like to sponsor a soccer team? The players will thank you. Click here to contact the foundation.
Buy a book or CD published by Children of Medellín
The foundation has released two books and a CD. These demonstrate their work with the children in a beautiful way. The earnings go to the foundation.
- Book: ‘The highest district of Medellín’ – 2022
A wonderful book about the past and daily life of the inhabitants in the disadvantaged neighborhoods of Bello Oriente and Carambolas, high in the mountains and far away in Medellín. For 25 euros (including shipping) you will get the book sent to your home.
- Book: ‘Friday my dream will come true’ – 2014
One of the children at the foundation, Juan David Villada (14), received a special reward for his great effort in a soccer project: a trip to Cartagena. For the first time in his life, he saw the sea. On that one Friday, his dream came true.
The book consists of 160 pages, filled with wonderful stories and stunning photographs. It takes you on a journey through the modern history of Colombia and Medellín. Featured are the homes, the background of the children, the projects and what they mean to the children. And, of course, the children themselves will also have their say. For 20 euros (including shipping), get the book delivered to your home.
- CD: ‘Amor bonito’ – 2014
The CD consists of seven songs written and composed by children at the foundation, in collaboration with music teacher Dario Eraso. The music is a mix of various local musical styles and is co-led by Dutch salsa trumpeter Maite Hontelé. For 15 euros (including shipping) you will get the CD delivered to your home.
Want to buy a book or CD? Then contact them here.
Make a donation
Of course, you can also simply and quickly send money to the foundation. With this, they can do a lot for the children and their families. Want to donate? Then click here and make a donation immediately.
Visit Children of Medellín and the disadvantaged neighborhood
You can also visit the foundation high in the mountains of Medellín. Sabine is happy to take you on a walk through the slum and show you what goes on at the foundation. However, the foundation is obviously not a travel organization or tourist attraction, so please contact them well in advance due to Sabine’s availability. The idea is not to just get a glimpse of the poor neighborhood. If you want to, book this tour of Comuna 13 in Medellín. Do not walk alone through the neighborhood near the foundation, there are some dangerous parts and people here are not yet used to foreigners. The employees of the foundation are acquaintances in the neighborhood and with them you can safely walk through the neighborhood.
If you would like to visit the foundation, please contact Sabine. In exchange for the tour, the foundation asks for a (small) donation, such as buying a book or CD. Super fun as a souvenir for you or as a gift for family and friends back home.
It is also appreciated if you make publicity for the foundation. Share your experiences on Instagram, LinkedIn or on Facebook and post a tag or link to the foundation’s website or account. They can put this to good use. This way you will have a special and unique experience in Medellín Colombia, and help create a better future for children in the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Find the foundation on social media here:
Off the beaten path in Medellín Colombia
After a long day of special impressions, meeting lovely people and enjoying stunning views of Medellín and the lights at night, we also had to return. Taking the bus up the steep mountain was exciting, but nothing compared to the way back down. A group of young girls boarded the bus who all started singing songs on the bus (see my pinned stories ‘Medellín on my Instagram account for a video). As the driver drove down the mountain at a tremendous speed through the ultra narrow streets with screeching tires.
Safe and sound at the cable car, we were able to enjoy the beautiful view of Medellín and the mountains, but now in the evening. I spontaneously felt like Christmas at the sight of all those flickering lights. Once both feet back on the ground, we made the final part on the subway.
Lying in bed, I think back on this day. Such an amazing experience there in the highest mountains of Medellín. Where not a tourist is yet to be seen and you can see the effect of the foundation so clearly. I was impressed by the children’s dance and music performances. What talented those children are!
Do you want to contribute to a better Medellín? Small scale with big results? Visit the website of Children of Medellín and see how you would like to help. With all the help they are happy, and the children even more so.
How would you like to support Children of Medellín?