Small towns and rural areas of Cauca, Colombia, are extremely dangerous due to the presence of illegal armed groups and narcotics trafficking gangs. These groups are active throughout much of the country and have great influence in many vulnerable, marginalized communities, especially those seeking out a living by growing illicit crops that feed the drug trade. Violence related to narco-trafficking is one of the greatest threats to Colombia’s youth population, and it’s not uncommon to see girls become pregnant as young as the age of 12 and 13.
To counter this alarming reality, the Colombian government has created a country-wide social inclusion campaign known as “Fe en Colombia” – Faith in Colombia. This program was designed to engage children and adolescents at high risk of recruitment by illegal armed groups through recreational and cultural activities.
In the context of Fe en Colombia, Colombian and U.S. Army teams are working together to involve some of the most at-risk communities in Cauca. Together with local police, these teams are creating recreational and educational advancement opportunities for youth, including a soccer tournament in 10 of the most vulnerable villages. The tournament will be held every Sunday from March – May, and it will serve as a platform for community leaders, the Colombian and U.S. military teams, and local law enforcement to discuss current problems and find solutions to the illegal activities and youth recruitment.
However, there is a critical local need of supplies: equipment necessary to host the event, such as soccer uniforms and balls to kick-off the inaugural ceremony.
You can help youth in the Cauca region of Colombia have a better and brighter future. Your support to this program will bring together key local leaders, help establish a new relationship with the Colombian Government and assist U.S. advisors in developing homegrown counter-recruitment initiatives.