Colombia Planting the seeds of change

Like many urban areas, Bogotá is a city of contrasts. On the one hand, it is an established center of finance, commerce, government, education and culture. At the same time, it is the home of many poor people, where illegal settlements of people displaced by rural poverty and violence are common.

In an attempt to bridge these contrasts, thyssenkrupp Elevator and SOS Children’s Villages recently kicked off Project SEED with site-visits and workshops. The project will soon be making a difference for many disadvantaged young people in Colombia.

Meeting with people in need

Being a parent is never easy, but it’s even harder when you’re 14, and never had good parenting yourself. Your cellphone might seem much more interesting than your crying child.

Project SEED kicked off by meeting some of these young people at the Family Strengthening Program (FSP). FSP makes parenting easier for young mothers aged 14-21. Caring professionals teach communication skills and offer tips in supportive small group settings. Mothers learn and practice more constructive ways to raise their children and keep them healthy and safe.

Listening to their voices

Many of the young people in the SOS Children’s Village in Bogotá know what they want out of life. The problem is that they may not know how to get that. Their lives haven’t really prepared them for things like an eight-hour workday, job interviews and coming to work on time.

If they’re not better prepared, they’ll drop out – and they do – leaving them vulnerable to the lure of the fast money of crime. That’s not what they want. They know too well the dangers of gangs, drugs, and prison. But to survive the “culture shock” of having a normal working life, they need skills. thyssenkrupp Elevator staff met with many of these young people.

Learning from one another

Meeting with the people who will benefit from Project SEED was good preparation for the staff of thyssenkrupp Elevator. What SOS Children’s Villages staff now needed was thyssenkrupp Elevator expertise on job training. And what they both needed was a plan for how they would work together, learning as they went.

The goal was to create a multi-pronged program that meets the differing needs of several groups of kids and young adults. Luckily, thyssenkrupp Elevator already had a model for introducing children to the world of work that it was successfully using in Brazil.

 

Moving from planning to action

The workshop team also decided that it was essential that the young people enrolled in Project SEED be involved in the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the program. Not only would this deliver valuable insight, it would also encourage “ownership” among program participants.

Over the next few months, workshop participants will be busy applying the finishing touches to the basic plan. A detailed program description will be the result, and then – early in 2018 – Project SEED will be up and running, and a contributing component of the worldwide YouthCan! initiative.

 

People are the reason – and people make the difference

Project SEED is all about people: people improving their chances in life; people working together; people sharing; people making a difference; people helping people. One of those people is CEO Andreas Schierenbeck, who has a special place in his heart for the people of Colombia. Schierenbeck lived and worked in Colombia from 1995 to 2003. During his time there he learned Spanish, and gained a profound appreciation for the “optimism, perseverance and warmth” of the Colombian people. In Colombia and elsewhere, Andreas Schierenbeck has high hopes for Project SEED.

And where will Project SEED next sprout? In Brazil, in December: and you’ll be able to read more about it, in PERSPECTIVES.


“We only can fulfill these goals, when we can find partners like thyssenkrupp Elevator. I’m so thankful and happy for the partnership with thyssenkrupp Elevator. They will support SOS and the youth tremendously by creating inspiring opportunities for young people and ensuring an equal chance for them to succeed in life.”

Petra Horn, CEO SOS Children’s Villages


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thyssenkrupp Elevator employees help young people thrive

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