By: Philipp Zwehl
Having recently started as Nukanti's new Program Coordinator in Colombia, the last three weeks have been intensive, challenging, but first and foremost rewarding...
I came to Colombia's capital city of Bogotá around two weeks ago and since then have spent most of my time in the Cazucá neighborhood, working together with our local coordinator Nohora Guerrero in order to strengthen Nukanti's "Weaving Cazucá" project.
The community has shown great interest in the project, eager to see it finally being finished, since the construction process had been delayed for some time, as it will deal with obstacles like missing water supply, a characteristic problem in these neighborhoods.
In the meantime, the unique architecture of the Community Center, or "Casa de Botellas" ("House of Bottles") as the locals call it, has gained fame throughout the whole neighborhood, inspiring both curiosity and pride.
According to our principles of local ownership and participation, the community members have taken an active part in the construction process, now regarding the center as "theirs" - worth of maintaining and caring for.
It was a pleasure to see how the children and youths received their new center, being excited about the all the possibilities that its greater space offers.
Now, that the Community Center finally opened its doors, different activities have been implemented from an After-school Tutoring program, of Breakdance and Capoeira Workshops, to different musical activities.
In the first week of March we are expecting the visit of our US partner for this project, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, who will cover the development of the project up until now. This will be part of the “Operation Change” international media campaign, a groundbreaking documentary series about inspiring development cooperation projects worldwide.
I also visited Nukanti's award winning “Playing for Freedom” capoeira project in the Ciudad Bolivar neighborhood where a group of youngsters was training in the Brazilian art form in a school yard up in the slum's hills under the eyes of our local project coordinator Cristian.
The kids did not accept no as an answer, so I was lucky enough to receive my first capoeira class under the blistering sun of Bogota, which lies at 2,625 metres (8,612 ft) above sea level. The next morning both my sore muscles and burnt face were a painful reminder of my first capoeira steps.
The class ended with a so called "Roda" (Portugese for "Circle") in which all the students showed their extraordinary skills at "fighting" or rather playing one-on-one to the sounds of ancestral songs that African slaves once brought to Brazil which now ring out across the hills of Ciudad Bolivar...