Sad stories of the street children of Colombia

Morpeth Rotary Club

ONE of the international charities supported by Morpeth Rotary Club over recent years helps street children in Colombia.

It is called New Hope for Children Bogota and is run by Richard and Jeanene Sanderson.

Local man Richard calls in at Morpeth Rotary every two to three years to update the club about the project.

It now looks after 170 children. Recent new arrivals had been living in cardboard boxes or under bridges. One girl had been born in a cardboard box on the street. She is now grown-up, has a part-time job nearby and does volunteer work with the project.

A four-year-old who was taken on had been abandoned by her drug-addict mother. Seven-year-olds must have their birth certificates taken to a government office to have an identity card issued, but when they went to get the girl’s documentation once she reached this age, they were told it was a false birth certificate and the mother must register again to get a card. Her grandma was contacted and said the mother had just been seen in a nearby town. She was found and reintroduced to her child.

She is still not able to look after her, but says she will keep in contact.

A baby taken in was first abandoned by her 64-year-old father and then by her 24-year-old mother. She had malnutrition and breathing difficulties but is now healthy and happy.

The Sandersons run their own school, which for the first time has been rated by the Government as operating at the top level – they had been second top for a number of years.

A good school in the USA had offered a scholarship to the top student which involves completing the final year at a US high school.

There were only a few marks between the top two students and the runner-up was very upset, saying he wished he had worked harder.

A representative of the school came to visit the project, heard the story and was able to offer a second scholarship. Both boys went on an aeroplane for the first time to travel to the US and both are performing at the highest level in the new school.

The project also provides nurseries for the young ones, including food, medical care and accommodation, all within a Christian framework. In turn, it gives gifts of food and clothing to local needy villages. Twice a year, it organises an international group of health professionals to take a mobile clinic facility to isolated villages.

The older children in the project act as nursing and medical assistants and translators. If they find cases that need expensive operations, such as a girl with no joints in her bones, they make arrangements to help.

The project needs $1million a year to run and Richard travels to the USA and across Great Britain to raise money as needed.

Assured of further support, Richard agreed to draw the charity raffle at the end of his talk.