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Step up for Soacha! Help plant 60,000 trees so Colombian children can thrive

October 8, 2010

Jennifer Schmidt

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Message from Jennifer Schmidt

In September I went to the field with Mercy Corps for the first time and spent eight incredible days in Colombia. I saw some of the most courageous people surrounded by the worst violence and poverty I have ever seen. But seeing our Mercy Corps team in action, I was filled with hope that we truly can have a long-term impact in the fight against poverty and violence!

So today, I'm writing to ask for you to join me in helping the people of Soacha, a slum on the outside of Bogota home to very poor people displaced there by violent conflict.

Soacha is a crowded cement city with few green spaces for public use. Most of the families are poor and vulnerable — they include indigenous groups, Afro-Colombians and thousands who’ve been displaced from rural areas by the country’s long-running internal conflict. Homes are built on and around unstable land, putting residents at risk of landslides and floods. Furthermore, many of these degraded areas are home to a high level of violence and conflict. All the conflict’s armed actors, from guerrilla groups like the infamous FARC to paramilitary groups, are present in Soacha, making everyday life perilous for residents -- especially children.

Planting trees in greenspaces will help prevent landslides, provide activities for at-risk youth and strengthen the bonds of this diverse community. It will also create jobs at tree nurseries and create shared space for all residents to enjoy.

Your contribution will help engage at-risk youth and protect families by transforming the landscape where they live. The day I was there, the children were making and flying kites in what had been a barren and desolate area - change is starting to happen but we need your help to make it grow and last. Thank you!