Food For The Poor, Minuto de Dios Provide Homes, Foundation to Lift Families: First Joint Sustainable Community Development Inaugurated in Colombia
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 16, 2021) For 60 families displaced by years of conflicts in Colombia, the gift of a home is the foundation that will put them and future generations on the path out of poverty.
The first 20 homes of Palma Real were inaugurated in Granada on March 5, part of the first sustainable community development built by Food For The Poor donors and Minuto de Dios, the charity’s partner.
By late summer, all 60 homes and a development center will be completed. The center will serve as a hub where those 60 families plus potentially hundreds of others in the surrounding area will receive education, training and the tools to help them flourish on their own.
“You are helping these families find peace by giving homes to those who need it,” Fr. Mario Polo, General Director of Minuto de Dios, said at the inauguration.
From 1986 to 2017, an estimated 7.6 million people have been displaced in Colombia, the highest total in the world, according to the World Inequality Report.
Many of the families who will reside in Palma Real live near Villavicencio, about three and a half hours southeast of Bogota. Others live in the neighboring municipalities of Granada, Vista Hermosa, Lejanias, Fuente de Oro and Mesetas.
Maribel and her three children, one of the 20 families who received a home, thanked God for the blessing of a “dignified home.”
“We have had many experiences where people did not like us, or when we had visitors, or even when our kids were playing. It sometimes felt humiliating,” she said. “I hope you continue to support many families that need a home like me.”
For Edgar and his wife, Darly, and two children, the future is looking much brighter and more secure now that they have their own home.
“Thanks for giving us a smile,” Edgar said. “This was one of the greatest days of our lives.”
Minuto de Dios has developed a model for caring for families living in poverty that focuses on building communities. The three-bedroom homes in Palma Real include cement foundations and clay brick walls capable of withstanding earthquakes and winds up to 75 mph. Each home also is equipped with internal electrical wiring, plumbing and sanitation.
But providing homes is just the beginning to putting families on the path to self-sufficiency.
“This important work is not only providing these families safe shelter but is helping them land jobs, teaching valuable skills and providing the foundation for them to succeed,” said Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine. “This is our shared vision with Minuto de Dios.”
Minuto de Dios’ program focuses on strengthening the social fabric of families and communities. Citizen participation is emphasized because commitment from the community’s own residents is vital to its success and long-term development.
A key part of the project will be a market study to identify income-generating projects tailored to the families’ skills and the community’s needs. At the development center, families will receive training on water, sanitation and hygiene, financial literacy and other life and social skills.
The idea is to boost their confidence and self-esteem and prepare them for leadership. As individuals learn to manage their own businesses, they will be able to increase their income and gain access to better employment opportunities while supporting their households.
“These families will have the capacity to sustain themselves economically to cover the costs involved with the utilities in their homes,” said David Langle, Food For The Poor’s South America Project Manager.
The Palma Real project will be developed in phases over five years. A FFTP team will monitor and evaluate the development to determine what’s working or needs refined, while looking for tangible ways the lives of the families have changed for the better and if they are on the road to overcoming poverty.
FFTP began serving in Colombia in 2014. Since 2019, the charity has partnered with Minuto de Dios to bring relief to families, including tens of thousands of Venezuelan migrants who have fled to escape shortages of food, water and medicine.
In 2020, the charity sent 22 containers of aid to Colombia, including five to help families reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic’s disastrous effects on public health and the economy, with much of that aid distributed by Minuto de Dios.
“Our partnership with Minuto de Dios is of the highest value to us as we jointly seek to serve families living in dire poverty in Colombia,” Raine said. “This has been a true blessing from God.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphaned and abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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