Celebrating World Population Day and World Youth Skills Day 2023

Last week, we celebrated World Population Day (July 11) and World Youth Skills Day (July 13). To commemorate, we want to tell you a bit more about our projects focused on the importance of youth-skills for children and young people in order for them to advocate for themselves and improve their lives. 

The first project is located in Rio San Juan, Chocó, Colombia and is using education as a tool to empower and engage children in two rural schools so that they can avoid labour in toxic mines and illegal cocoa crop plantations. We chose to work in this region after identifying the various and severe risks the mining industry and its subsequent violence and exploitation poses to children and young people growing up there. Ninety nine percent of mines in Chocó are illegal and their aggressive extraction methods have created a humanitarian and environmental crisis that is putting children’s lives at risk. Toxic poisoning (from mercury used in gold mining) is a huge problem. River water and fish are heavily contaminated in the remote villages, however people often have no other option but to consume them daily. 

On top of this, the heavy machinery used by miners is destroying the land; as riverbanks collapse and deforestation rates rise each year, flooding is causing serious damage to riverside villages. The problems are exacerbated by the heavy presence of armed groups, who currently control the majority of illegal gold extraction. These illegal groups then forcibly recruit both adults and children and incite terror in these communities. This all has a knock on effect on education, with dwindling pupil numbers and unmotivated teachers. 

Thus, in this project, CCC, along with Acadesan, have been providing teachers with pedagogical skills to strengthen the children’s socio-emotional skills and knowledge of Colombian heritage as well as promoting the protection of the natural environment, children’s rights and education. Furthermore, the project is based around the right of all ethnic communities to educate their members according to their own cultural values, the history of their areas and the aspirations for a peaceful and dignified life. This type of education involves traditional strategies and activities from their culture, bringing children and young people closer to their afro-colombian heritage whilst also valuing the importance of the formal education system. We have been running this project since 2019 and have directly helped over 1,000 children and 300 adults. 

Valery, 13 years old, is one of our beneficiaries of the Education, Livelihoods, and Young Enterpreneruship programme in la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Furthermore, the importance of youth-skills for children and young people has been made clear through our Education, livelihoods and young entrepreneurship in the Caribbean project. This is the first project CCC is implementing directly with Mision Gaia, targeted at supporting and empowering indigenous children. Valery, a thirteen year old girl from La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and through this project, Valery has developed great communication skills as well as learned how to work in a team. She has also learnt how to make videos, both creating and editing them, and about the abundant biodiversity of the area around her. She wants to continue improving her English and showing off her area in the videos they have been making. You can watch a video of ‘a day in the life’ to learn more about Valery here. 

CCC is going to run a pilot of girl-led investigation which will be very important to help girls like Valery who dream of a future beyond their village in La Sierra, who want to continue to learn new things and build on the skills they have developed so far through this project. Learning these skills helps children and young people in Colombia to advocate for themselves as well as ensure better futures and break cycles of poverty.

Children in ACADESAN Project celebrating their Afro-Colombian Heritage.

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