Fernando Montaño, a Soloist with the Royal Ballet, two-time winner of the Latin-UK Awards (LUKAS awards) and judge for Colombia’s Dancing with the Stars, has been our patron for several years. We are very proud to have his support and grateful for his dedication to fundraising and promoting our work in both the UK and Colombia.
Having grown up in a poor neighbourhood in the Colombian city of Cali, Fernando understands the risks children and young people in Colombia face. He says,
“As a child, living in Aguablanca, a poor ‘barrio’ in the city of Cali, I didn’t know when I was most scared. When the gunfire began, or during the silent wait beforehand. Even though I knew it would come almost every night, nothing could take away the fear.
“Today I live in London and perform as a soloist with the Royal Ballet, but I still think about the many children in Colombia who are lying awake at night and craving safety. That’s because the armed conflict brought insecurity, despair, and loss of life and has brutalised thousands of children who have been used as fighters, informants and for sex.
“The peace accord with the guerrilla is hugely significant for Colombia, but it hasn’t ended all the violence. Some neighbourhoods, like Aguablanca where I grew up, are still controlled by drugs gangs who rule by fear and extreme brutality and who seek to recruit children. So there’s an urgent need for Children Change Colombia’s work to keep young people away from violence and help them build peace in their communities.
“This is difficult, but it’s what Children Change Colombia does every day. They provide safe places to play and to learn, where children can be children again.”
“But they also do more than that. In many places the years of conflict have destroyed community life and people are afraid and mistrust their neighbours. And a community ruled by fear is one that leaves children to fend for themselves on hostile streets.
“So CCC help children take the lead in rebuilding community ties. Through dance, music festivals or football, these young people are bringing their neighbours together to resist the fear and defy the gangs who would harm children.”
To hear Fernando talk more about why he believes our work is so important, listen to our Radio 4 Appeal from November 2015 here.
To see Fernando in action, come along to one of the many star-studded events he organises and performs in in benefit of Children Change Colombia! Contact us for further information, or check out our Upcoming Events pages.