Bringing Montessori to Colombia, South America
This past August, I received an email from a young woman named Ana Torres. Ana and her family (including her husband and parents) work for an organization in Colombia, South America, called Healing Colombia. As Ana explained, Colombia is a country in peril. High rates of violence, conflict, and poverty make it a difficult place for many people to live. Sadly, but typically, children are the ones who suffer the most in these kinds of conditions.
The mission of Healing Colombia is to work with the Colombian government and other charitable organizations to bring education, training programs, and other resources to at-risk youth and other disadvantaged groups in Colombia.
Ana is a Montessori-trained teacher, and has been in the process of setting up two different Montessori schools – one for children of missionaries who live in Colombia, and one for children of single mothers who need reliable, quality care for their children while they work. These are children who probably would otherwise not have a school to attend.
She asked me if I could help by donating materials to her new schools. As my husband said later, she couldn’t have known it, but she was really asking the right person. Not only do I love to give Montessori materials to needy causes, but I was in the middle of re-organizing my materials for the new school year, which meant that I could sort through my boxes and bins and give her everything that I didn’t need for my own children anymore.
In the end, I filled eight large boxes with things to send to Ana. Included were printed materials (like the Continent Kit Collection!), a cutting board, laminating film, and a laminating machine; puzzles and manipulatives; classroom items like baskets, containers, dustpans, and rugs; math and science materials; and one of my CD-ROMs. In addition, I went to Target when all the school supplies were on sale and went crazy buying glue, crayons, pencils, paper, clipboards, and other great stuff.
I mailed the boxes to Ana, but due to some shipping problems (the boxes were held up by customs and red tape for four months), she didn’t receive them until December. For awhile I felt as if she was never going to get them, and we emailed back and forth lamenting the boxes’ lack of progress. When Ana finally emailed me that the boxes had arrived, I was so happy and relieved that I cried.
She’s been working hard setting up her new classrooms, so I was delighted when she emailed me some fantastic pictures the other day. Take a look at these adorable students (click on each picture for a larger view):
Once I got involved with the project, I decided it would be the perfect time to focus on South America (and Colombia specifically) in our homeschooling time. It was so much fun for me and my kids to research this beautiful country and learn more about life there. In any sort of geography study, I highly recommend finding a “real life” way for kids to get involved. It makes their studies come alive, and changes many lives for the better!