Stories

Our time in the field gives us a personal view on what it's like to get access to education. The mothers, children and communities that we’ve met inspire our ideas and, often times, solutions. Every one of them has a story worth sharing.

Kelly is Cucuta born and raised, and until last year lived in neighbourhood “Las Palmeras”. She lives with her mother and her sister, and they have a small shop.

Kelly Johana Osorio Angel:

Kelly Johana Osorio Angel:

Bucaramanga 2014

Kelly is Cucuta born and raised, and until last year lived in neighbourhood “Las Palmeras”. She lives with her mother and her sister, and they have a small shop. His father lives in Monteria, 15 hour bus ride from Cucuta. He is temporal worker laborer; making only enough to survive. Kelly and her father maintain their relationship by phone.

It is important to note that although Kelly lives 24 blocks away from the Youth Center, she has always attended the activities with the greatest commitment. She is a good student, very responsible and mature for her age.

Yet in November, 2015, her mother was forced to close her business and sell their house, moving to Venezuela due to business debts. There, they survive as bootleggers. This change has not been easy on Kelly, because she is far from all she has ever known. She is in seventh grade, she is a very good athlete and plays as a defender in the Fundación soccer team. Due to the move to Venezuela, she had to stop attending the trainings but she tries to return during the weekends to participate in the weekend activities.

Jennifer Mantilla’s story begins in 2011, when SEF went to the San Pedro school in Bucaramanga.

Jennifer Mantilla

Jennifer Mantilla

Bucaramanga 2009

Jennifer Mantilla’s story begins in 2011, when SEF went to the San Pedro school in Bucaramanga. SEF teamed up with IDEI English Language Institute to create an English-language scholarship programme where select students’ full year tuition is paid for. Jennifer stood out as a competitive candidate for the scholarship programme, as she was the best in her class despite poor living conditions, no internet, and attending an underfunded school.

Since 2011, Jennifer has been nominated again for the same English-language scholarship and has been highly involved with SEF. Jennifer has accompanied SEF to other project sites, participating as a leading volunteer at our Puerto Wilches, Barranca & Sabana de Torres 2013 project. Currently, SEF is trying to help Jennifer study at the founder’s alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, to continue her English studies.


Help us support Jennifer in her quest for education!


“ I want to take advantage of this opportunity that was given to me [to] make a future for myself.”

Cesar Estiven Sosa Vega

Cesar Estiven Sosa Vega

Cucuta 2014

Estiven is native to the district Antonio Santos, a neighbourhood in Cucuta.  He comes from a family of butchers, and lives with his father, mother, and sister. Estiven attends a school with limited academic resources and though his parents have tried to enroll him into a better school (Bicenterrio School), they have not had much luck. It is urgent that we assist Estiven, to give him the opportunity to have a better education.                      

Estiven is also a strong central defender for the Fundacion soccer team. His is very strong on his right side. However, Estiven’s chest is not growing at the same pace as his internal organs, forcing his heart and lungs very close to his ribs. The doctor says that this problem is mainly due to malnutrition, and his organs will be oppressed until his next development when he becomes 17 years old. We hope that if given adequate food, Estiven’s body can recuperate.

In 2015, we were given an update on Estiven:
In September, Estiven underwent much-needed oral surgery but was able to keep his grades up, and become a leader in his Ant Patrol (Colombian Boy Scouts). He also was one of only 30 Cucuta players invited by Cucuta Deportiva to a go watch a professional soccer match and meet ex-Cucuta players who shared their experiences with Estiven and the other students. In January, Estiven got accepted into the Salesiano School of Cucuta, a much better school in his district. Estiven has been working very hard to get good grades at this school, and has even learned new software programmes to prepare for his career in architecture. The social worker that visited his family reported a very united, healthy, and economically-stable family that wholeheartedly supports Estiven in his academic aspirations. Estiven’s self esteem has grown since he has received his scholarship, and his academic prowess and personal health have noticeably changed positively.

Carlos aka Carlitos lives with his family in a small home in the Neighborhood Sabana Verde, a few blocks from Youth Center in Los Olivos.

Carlos Humberto Verjel Rojas

Carlos Humberto Verjel Rojas

Cucuta 2014

Hey call him Carlitos due to his thin body and short stature. Carlitos is one of the most committed in the Youth Center, working with them for almost two years now. He has a strong personality, is very sociable and is natural communicator. He is cheerful and easygoing; he also has an obvious natural intelligence.

Carlos several artistic talents, he likes to experience every opportunity that is presented to him, he learns quickly and has a good memory. He's a leader, enjoys learning and helping other as disabled, elderly and other community members in need. An example of this is the creation of his project: Con Carlos Hoy Bailando Estoy, where he implements dance-therapy with the elderly and the youth of the slums and donates groceries. He also volunteers with the youth of a neighbouring school and works with a health campaign that supports pregnant women.  

We were given a report on Carlitos in 2015:

Carlos, in addition to Estiven, enrolled in the Salesiento School of Cucuta, a much better private school in the area. He struggled with his first semester, and worked with his social worker to find the source of the problem. Now in 11th grade, Carlos has chosen a focus on Art Graphics at the Salesiento School. He is leader of his Ant Patrol (Colombian Boy Scouts) and continues his work with the elderly and youth with his project Con Carlos Hoy Bailando Estoy. Carlos joined the rugby team as the Fundacion Juventud Lider signed an agreement with Norte Santander Rugby League. Carlos’ family continues to support him and has stayed economically-stable for the past year. Carlitos is healthy and happy, excited to give back to his community and learn as much as he can!