National Hispanic Heritage Month: FFTP Team Inaugurates New Communities, Meets New Partners in Colombia
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (September 15, 2022) A Food For The Poor team traveled to Colombia and saw firsthand how the charity’s generous donors and trusted partners are transforming the lives of families living in poverty.
During a seven-day trip in July, the team attended the inauguration of two separate sustainable community development projects and visited Acceso, a new partner that is connecting farmers to the market and helping them thrive.
Today, FFTP recognizes the rich culture and traditions of Colombia and the contributions of donors and partners bringing hope to families in the country as the charity marks National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins today and continues through Oct. 15.
In Bogotá, the team met a few of the families who received the gift of a two-bedroom apartment at Ciudad de Dios Entrenubes, which means City of God Between the Clouds. In all, 72 families will be part of this high-rise community that gets its name from its location near the mountainside.
The grand opening was hosted by the Order of Malta Foundation in Colombia. This longtime FFTP partner worked with the charity and another partner, Fundación Construimos, which built the multistory apartment building.
Beneficiaries included a mother who tearfully expressed her overwhelming joy when she received the keys to her new apartment.
“I’m very happy,” said the mother, who shares the home with two daughters, including one with a new baby. “Sometimes, you think there are things that are impossible, but this is my dream come true. I’ve always dreamed of having my own home.”
Two years ago, before construction began, nuns began preparing the beneficiaries for their bright future to come.
“Most important is the social development the nuns are doing,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “You can’t just build something and walk away. Not only do you have to build buildings, but you also have to build lives. And this is the beauty of this project.”
Jairo Mosquera, of Fundación Construimos, thanked FFTP for assisting the beneficiaries both materially and spiritually.
“This will change their lives completely. Not just with the much better living conditions but also with the preparations for the gifts they are receiving,” Mosquero said. “We hope this is just a step to continue working together for the poorest and people with the greatest needs.”
Juan Guillermo Gutierrez, President of the Order of Malta in Colombia, said many families achieved the dream of a dignified home. “Congratulations to all of the families,” he said.
The team also visited Palma Real in Granada, the first large-scale sustainable community development built by FFTP and partner Minuto de Dios. Families moved into the first 20 homes in March 2021, followed by another 20 in November 2021 and – most recently – another 20 in June of this year.
The FFTP team added their handprints in colored paint to join those from residents already displayed on a prominent wall in the community as a permanent marker of the inauguration.
“There is nothing better in this world than to have a small part in transforming the lives of others,” Raine said. “You are all our neighbors. It is our joy to see your joy in this great moment.”
Construction is underway on an integral development center where the families and potentially hundreds of others in the surrounding area will receive education, training and the tools to help them flourish on their own.
“All of the families are very grateful from their hearts,” said Fr. Mario Polo, Executive Director of Minuto de Dios. “The Lord Jesus Christ taught us one thing: to be grateful.”
The team met Marcos de Jesus and his two sons, who lost their mother to a cruel skin-hardening disease just two months before they got the keys to their new home last December. It was their mother who applied for the home, wanting a better future for her family and a stable place to call home.
Because Marcos didn’t have family or a network of support in Granada, he was prepared to move after his wife’s death. But with the support of Minuto de Dios, he was persuaded to stay in Palma Real, fulfilling his wife’s wishes.
“It’s a dream come true. It gives me a lot of tranquility knowing that I have a roof for my children, for us,” he said, adding the spirit of his wife lives on in their new home.
Another highlight of the trip was meeting with representatives of Acceso, which helps smallholder farmers who earn less than $5 a day bring their products to the marketplace.
With FFTP, Acceso will add six more community training farms over the next 18 months, impacting 170 vulnerable women and youth, as well as 500-plus surrounding farmers. The focus will be on providing tools and the necessary education and training to ensure they know how to use the tools properly.
In addition to Colombia, Acceso works in Haiti and El Salvador, two countries where FFTP also works.
“From a like-mindedness perspective, this is absolutely in lockstep with us,” Raine said. “This is about doing something to solve the problems of poverty.”
Raine said the Colombia trip was important to see the impactful ways the charity’s donors are changing lives while laying the groundwork for more ambitious projects and new partnerships.
“It was an inspiring trip, not only for what we saw but for the quality of the conversations about how we can grow with partnerships,” Raine said. “Getting these connections, figuring out who can fit where and making sure we don’t have to duplicate where another organization is already doing it. It’s about bringing core competencies together and allowing everyone to do their best work.”
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 vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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