Rineicha Otero in Colombia – Day 3

Monday 8/19/2013

The day has finally arrived; I was able to visit the San Jorge community. San Jorge is a community composed of displaced families. The community is comprised of 400 peoples, 125 being youth of diverse ages.  Ginna has been working with this community to empower the women and children economically. There are three lines to Ginna’s project Amarte (Women), Panita (Youth), and Historia (History of Community). Amarte focuses on the economic empowerment of the women in San Jorge. They have been receiving the support to become entrepreneurs of a community artisanal company. So far, they have created bracelets, bags (using recycled materials), and sandals.

During my visit, I was able to meet a group representing the National University of Colombia. The group was composed of students and professors of the school of business, focused in marketing. The marketing team is teaching the women how to use recycled materials for the packaging of the products.

The women are so proud of their work and put a lot of detail, care, and patience into each of the products made. “Quality versus quantity, and great customer service is the goal,” Doña Erminia states. “However, it is very important to understand that we are not looking for riches but for a better way of living”, she says.

San Jorge is such a giving and humble community. At lunchtime, they begin to gather spoons, plates, and cups from all of the houses in the community. They begin a community sancocho. Sancocho is a meat stew with plantains, cilantro, potato, and yucca. Delicious!

Everyone completed a task to make the amazing stew; some chopped cilantro, others peeled potatoes and plantains.  Once done, they mixed them into the large pot already placed on the high flame.

After lunch, it was time to burn some calories. I prepared a team-building workshop for the youth of the community. It was a diverse age group, and once the balloons came out, I had their attention. I went prepared with the expectation that the children would learn from me, but I was so wrong. I learned so much from observing their interactions and listening to their conversations. I asked what they had learned, and they spoke about leadership, communication, and the importance of working together to achieve the task at hand. It was very rewarding to work with such a wonderful group.

I learned so much about this community. The people that make up the community are resilient, unique, rich in culture, warm, and welcoming. This community hopes to be the model for other displaced communities in the country. Sustainability is the mission for the community, and all are working strongly towards accomplishing their hopes.