active family travel,  Travel

Five Things I Learned Travelling in Colombia with World Vision Canada #TMMWVC #TravelTuesday

Some stories rattle around in my head longer than others. Some stories touch your heart immediately but they take time to express. I have a few more of those beautiful meaningful experiences from my time travelling in Colombia late last year. I spent close to a week travelling in Colombia with World Vision Canada in September 2014. The experience was life changing and motivating and moving and so very big.

Travelling in Colombia with World Vision Canada taught me a few things

I have already told many of the stories of the Colombian children, the workers and the places we visited, but in the last few weeks I have been travelling back to Colombia in my mind. Asomiflor still needs to be expressed so others will know exactly what an ADP (area development program) looks like at the start of World Vision’s powerful work. One young woman who worked with World Vision Colombia still haunts me in a good way. Her story is beautiful, powerful and sad and so much like the history of Colombia.

Travelling in Colombia

So, I guess I am trying to tell you to stay tuned there will be more to read and learn about World Vision Canada. There are more stories coming. But today as I prepare for another very different trip, I am thinking about the time I spent travelling in Colombia. I wanted to take a moment to share five things I learned from travelling all over Colombia with World Vision Canada to see what child poverty looks like firsthand.

Five Things I Learned Travelling in Colombia with World Vision Canada:


The Children in Colombia are beautiful and strong and resilient and smart and they will make you remember how important the gift of education is. In a country where not everyone has access to education and some children climb over one hour, up a treacherous mountain to the very top just to get to school each day and then they repeat the journey back down hill each afternoon, I remembered that education is one of the greatest gifts any child ever gets.

2. People have all the power in the world to fix things: 

When you believe in something like making the world a better place for children, and you focus your mind, body and heart on that one overarching principal you can make it happen. Johan and Wilson in Bucaramanga were the most amazing examples of this in action. When you dedicate your entire life to making change, change happens in places like Colombia.

Advocacy is a way of life for the people working in the Bucaramanga office of World Vision Colombia. Even against seemingly insurmountable odds, change happens in Bucaramanga and that change means children and families have support and a child living in abject poverty finishes school and goes on to be a community leader, or a teacher, or a social worker. People have all the power in the world to fix things.

3. Team Work:

Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change things…you know the saying from Margaret Mead? Bucaramanga. Period. Say it aloud. It is a fun little word. Bucaramanga. What is the one thing stronger than the individual person? –  a committed group of people working towards a common purpose.

In the couple of days I spent just in Bucaramanga, I met about 25 people working in the Bucaramanga office of World Vision Colombia. Most of the grown up employees and volunteers there were at one time sponsored children. In fact many were sponsored by Canadians. Many of those same sponsored children went on to work for World Vision, and then also went on to sponsor a child locally themselves. How do you change a community from the inside out? You start with a child and a family and you nurture that inside a community of caring and together that community can move mountains.

4. The Power of Play, Sports and Recreation, is So Much Greater Than We Realize: 

What does dance, crafting, singing, and soccer have to do with peace-keeping and changing the future course of an entire country? Everything. We talk a lot about bringing back play and such notions in Canada and The United States and even in highly developed areas of Europe. But how much thought do we give to the notion that play is a doorway in to a child’s world and it is also a steady course to building systemic change for entire nations?

What do I mean by that? Well, take the group called the Peace Keepers in Colombia. Peace Keepers started in 1996. It’s a national movement of youth advocates that battles gang activity, crime and drug culture from the front line. It is also a movement that says bring me your 6,7,8 and 9 years olds and we will help build them a community centre and teach them dance and crafts and maybe soccer. And while we are doing that, we build self esteem and courage. In the process, Peacekeepers also nurtures advocates and identifies mentors within groups of children while dancing, crafting and playing soccer.

At Peacekeepers children and mentors talk about history discussing what drugs and guns do, what bullying does, and they create a tiny motivated army of advocates who are young. Children’s rights and empowerment are discussed while dancing and making bracelets after school. (After school is the time children here are most vulnerable to being recruited by gangs. In some spaces that are rural and impoverished that we visited it is common for drug dealers to give ten year olds heroin for free in order to mentor them in as tiny gang members.) Now take this powerful youth group to a national conference and watch them build a powerful chorus.

Starting here with crafts and play and soccer and dance, the Peace Keepers have built a strong national movement that sends official statements to the government and to FARQ telling them children have a right to a childhood and a right not to be recruited as soldiers and weapons in any war or guerrilla activity.

5: Giving Matters:

Giving is one of the most important things anyone can do regardless of your income, your personal situation or amount. If you can give, then you should give, because giving has impact and it is the right thing to do. Gift your time or your money or both. Gift your voice, if that is what your strength is. When you give to any charitable organization working to make the world a better place, then you share in the rewards for years to come.

World Vision Gift Catalogue

The World Vision Gift Catalogue remains a gifting option all year. Child sponsorship is impactful all year round too.

I believe we can change the world together. How do you give back?

More about my Trip:
You can read more about my travels in Colombia with World Vision Canada
Part 1: The Briefing
For more information visit the main World Vision site.
You can also follow World Vision on twitter at
and on Facebook:


Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Brenda Lacourciere

    What a fabulous opportunity. More people should help out and experience the hardship of others.

  • Cara (@stylishgeek)

    What a soul-enriching experience you just shared with us! I would like to do this as well when my kid gets older, perhaps volunteer in Habitat for Humanity in a 3rd world country, or any other philanthropic endeavor. Your post certainly inspires me! Thank you for sharing!

  • Jessica Harlow

    It sounds like you had a life-altering trip to Colombia! I can’t imagine how vastly different everything must have been. I think you’ve taken away some incredible life lessons from that romp!

    • Paula

      Britney: 100 %. Every child can give something of themselves to get started helping others and adults must set that example first.

  • Vidya Sudarsan

    I’m very touched by your post. I completely agree with all your points. Education is priceless and there is a lot that can be done to educate children in this world.

  • anita

    I definitely agree that giving matters. Giving anything actually, which includes your time, matters immensely.

  • Tamra Phelps

    I absolutely believe small groups of really committed people can change the World. In fact, I would say they are the only ones who can! Lord knows, very few politicians have any interest in changing anything. Only everyday people, who join together, can rattle the cages of those ‘in charge’ & force change.

  • debbie

    I admire people like you who make a difference in so many lives. If I was young and fit I would love to do what you have done but bring them all back home with me lol Thanks for being a caring person trying to hep others

  • Melissa Botelho

    This looks such a great opportunity for you and seeing a new culture can be fun or a shock.

  • Kelly

    What an amazing opportunity. I think the idea of people being able to change the world is so true. If we all just combined efforts we would be unstoppable.

  • Linda Manns Linneman

    I am so glad you got to experience this. It does change your thoughts on things when you visit and help out in places like this. Thank you so much for sharing

  • Evelyn Chuter

    I imagine it would be a life changing trip. What a great experience and what a great way to back. I would be afraid to go to Columbia. But if it meant helping others, I’d go in a minute. I love a good giving back story.

  • Sue M.

    Wow, this is a really wonderful accomplishment to help enrich the lives of people like you’re doing! You should be very

  • Deb E

    Yes I would say Teamwork is a biggie since it can take quite an effort to get things done sometimes. When all pull together, it’s so much easier and usually faster too. Great giving message.

  • Pam V H

    I love your point about the importance of play, sports, music and dance. It’s true that my ideas about what people might need are incomplete. Everybody needs recreation and the arts.

  • Katie Ellis

    What an amazing experience that must have been traveling in Columbia. Those five things you learned are definitely true especially that people can fix things. When we work together, we can get things done and change them.

  • Marthalynn

    Wow, this is so inspiring! I love what you said about how you start with a child and a family and from within the community you are able to effect change. And so enlightening about how sports and activities can change the world. Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Stacy

    I was in Columbia in October, but only for one day as part of a cruise stop. I went to Cartegena. It is such a beautiful city, and I would love to do some volunteer work like you did.

  • Dianna Davis

    you were so lucky to get to go there and visit and learn so much from these group of people. And how you can make a difference in their lives, let alone yours. And then to be able to share with the world of what you have learned. THat was a great gift to me — thank you for that. We just never realize how much we have and how little we need ,.and what we can give until someone such as yourself shares their gift.