Monday, 2 December 2019


Alvaralice Foundation

On November 21st, approximately 200,000 Colombians participated in the national strike in different cities to express their disapproval of the national government. Without a doubt, this public manifestation is an opportunity for the government to listen to the community, to take note and to adopt public policies to better serve all. At the beginning, the marches were peaceful as citizens echoed their call for national dialogue. However, a few people unfortunately stepped the line by engaging in acts of indiscriminate vandalism and thus turned the peaceful strike into a violent act of intolerance. Most of these rebels were young people from Cali, one of the cities most affected by these acts.

Cali’s youth faces innumerable barriers that prevent them from getting ahead with their lives. Among all the difficulties, the worst thing that can happen is for society to fall into a vicious circle of negativity, becoming passive, lacking imagination and energy, thus inevitably getting stuck. Instead, one can choose the optimistic point of view, especially when confronted with difficulty. It is not an easy task.

That is why today I want to highlight the efforts of the Alvaralice Foundation and the positive results it has obtained in the last few years. Since 2003, it has demonstrated an unbreakable optimism. Its work toward the empowerment of the vulnerable population of Cali -especially the youth of the city-  is a source of pride for the people of Cali and a living example of what can be done when we get together, how we are able to achieve unimaginable goals.

With projects focused on job creation, violence prevention, art, culture, technology and peace building, the foundation has demonstrated that social problems can also be seen as opportunities.

In 2013, the Alvaralice Foundation promoted the construction of the Tecnocentro Cultural Somos Pacífico in Potrero Grande, one of the most violent neighborhoods in the Aguablanca District. Thanks to resources from public, private and international organizations, Somos Pacífico has been operating for six years and has benefited more than 6,000 young people, with programs that teach bilingualism, arts and crafts, dance, robotics and music, among other activities that promote the positive use of free time. Additionally, the focus on teamwork and personal development of the local youth has contributed to the breaking down of paradigms and stereotypes about this vulnerable community, as well as keeping them away from drugs and violence.

Furthermore, the foundation leads an employability program Rumbo Joven in order to help decrease the high unemployment rates among young people in Cali. Rumbo Joven combines job training with employment opportunities networking, contributing in this way to higher income generation and population de-stigmatization. Thanks to this program’s alliances, the foundation has been able to train young people in employability skills and work alongside their employers of the private sector, demonstrating, once again, that good results can be obtained from effective teamwork. Today, more than 1,000 young people have been trained, with only a 10% dropout rate, and since 2014, an average of   65% of them have acquired jobs.

For years, the Aguablanca District has been one of the most dangerous sectors in Cali. However, the foundation has had a special interest in contributing to peaceful coexistence in this area, since it believes that the community itself can help change contexts and break barriers. For this reason, the foundation initiated a project in 2017 called “Cure Violence” (known locally as “Abriendo Caminos”) with the support of local and international partners. “Cure Violence” trains men and women from the community to be peace negotiators, empowering them to be able to mediate differences occurring within members of their communities and, in this way, lessen the violence.

Alvaralice Foundation, alongside the communities, partners and employees, has seen the challenges faced by Cali as an opportunity to generate the much needed changes. Cali and its people -always cheerful, optimistic and determined to move forward- motivate us. That’s why the community will keep on counting on the foundation for its unconditional work. The Alvaralice Foundation is convinced that Cali, as the saying goes, is “la sucursal de cielo” or “heaven’s branch on earth”.

Laura Ulloa González’s Opinion column, Member of the Board Director of Alvaralice Foundation. Published on December 1, 2019 in A13 section of Daily El País.

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