Fundación las Golondrinas: Helping Vulnerable and Displaced Communities

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Children with their dog in animal therapy
Children with their dog in animal therapy
Children learning at one of the education projects
Children learning at one of the education projects

In the third part of our NGO series, we sit down with Alessia Grani, the Projects Coordinator at Fundación Las Golondrinas to discuss their inspiring work which transforms the lives of vulnerable and displaced communities in Medellin and Antioquia.

What is the mission of the Foundation?

The foundation looks to work with vulnerable and displaced communities and transform their lives through education, social development and community projects.

Our mission is to advocate for actions that develop and promote human growth. Our programs promote healthy lifestyles, and support guidance for income generation while addressing the needs of each community we work with.

Why was it started and when was it founded?

Founded by three female philanthropists over 36 years ago, the foundation started working in Barrio Golondrinas where there were a lot of cultural and development issues, alongside extreme poverty.

They began working predominantly with vulnerable women and children on education projects and reforming housing, but started to develop an integrated approach to help address communities underlying issues.

What problems are you currently trying to solve?

There are many issues with displaced communities and vulnerable persons living in the marginal areas of urban Medellín and rural Antioquia.

They are often living in extreme poverty and have issues integrating into the local communities. Armed groups, prostitution, economic conditions and abuse are all issues that need tackling.

Many rural communities also lack access to basic amenities such as electricity and water, while they also suffer from isolation and receive little in the way of quality education or health care.

What projects are you currently carrying out and where are they based?

There are a variety of projects that the Foundation works on, which are all underpinned by three main pillars: education, social and community development, and income generation.

The organization works on education projects with children that promote traditional learning, alongside more practical topics. For example there is a project highlighting issues on healthy living and how to cook nutritious food.

Healthy eating at the project
Healthy eating at the project 

There are also projects that look to strengthen local businesses and their business skills, by supporting marketing and administration activities of small initiatives.

One of our most innovative projects involves using trained animals for therapy for disabled, abused or psychologically damaged children.

Children often find it easier to talk to animals and with the help of a professional psychologist, children open up about issues that are affecting their lives, while also learning good behavior from the animals.

These are just some examples of our many projects.

Animal therapy!
Animal therapy!

What is the impact of the projects and who are the beneficiaries?

The projects attend directly to around 9,577 children through the education and nutrition projects, while the families and local communities that also benefit from all the projects number close to 51,300 people.

As a consequence of the foundations interventions, there has been registered improvements in nutrition levels, cognitive levels and health checks, while barriers have been broken down in the communities so people can now cross neighbourhoods which were previously known as ‘barreras invisibles’ (invisible barriers).

This is a real visual demonstration of the impact of the projects.

How is the NGO funded and what charity status do you have?

The work of the Foundation is supported by the State (approximately 60-70 percent of funds) alongside other income streams such as a child sponsorship program, and private donations.

It also works with Give 2 Colombia an organization that has a 501c status to receive donations from the US.

How is the program sustainable?

The program works closely with the government to ensure state involvement over the longer term, while many of the income generation projects are set out to be sustainable with investments back into the local community.

How can people get involved?

People can support the Foundation in numerous ways. From sponsoring a child to volunteering for the organization, to donating financially to buying second-hand goods, there are many ways to become involved in the Foundation’s work.

Please contact us at info@fundacionlasgolondrinas.org for how you can support our work.

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Nick is an international development professional from the UK and is currently working for an NGO based in Medellin that supports miners and their communities. As well as covering development issues, he hopes to share his insights into life in Medellin and the daily confusion/excitement that comes with living in the city.

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  1. What a truly great organization! I already reached out to them for some volunteer work! I’m a children’s yoga teacher and hoping to offer some classes soon! Thanks for writing and bringing awareness to these organizations that do such amazing work for youth and the community!!!