In 2008, Give To Colombia began its first ever water and sanitation project in the northern coast of Colombia. It was not the first organization to build bathrooms for schools in the country, as many had come before it with the same goal of preventing neglected tropical diseases and reducing school drop-outs. But unlike the others, they reached out to Universidad del Valle’s Institute for Research and Development in Potable Water – CINARA – to create an educational component for the project.
Together with Fundación Mamonal, they developed training workshops where teachers could learn the UNICEF methodology and become multipliers of the knowledge within their schools. In addition, they created a way for students, parents, and staff of each school to carry out assessment exercises, which helped the children evaluate their sanitary spaces and practices. The exercises also led to a sense of leadership in the girls as they showed interest in improving self-care behaviors and even worked together to improve the lesson plans used by their teachers.
The teachers were in no way left behind as they also made sure to make the best of this opportunity. The teachers in Riohacha were so dedicated that they provided the resources needed for the project, saying their school’s participation was essential.
Instead of the six schools they set out to help, the project helped out seven schools in the cities of Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Riohacha benefiting 8,270 students. This project was the start of a new strategy at Give To Colombia and the inspiration to bring together several of its focus pillars (Health, Education, Economic Development, and Environment) to create wholesome initiatives.