Don Bosco City for Youths

Columbia continues being a country where different armed groups wage war and civilians are killed in the process. All fighting groups have one thing in common: the mainly finance themselves through the cultivation and selling of drugs.

San Vicente del Caguán is a city with 51,000 habitants in the Northwest of the Columbian province Caquetá. From 1998 until 2001, the city was the administrative center of the so called “zona de depeje”, the demilitarized zone, and was administrated autonomously by the guerilla organization FARC. Since the reconquest of this zone at the end of 2001, the region around San Vicente del Caguán has been a trouble spot. Numerous attacks by the FARC and paramilitaries characterize the average day. Several thousands of habitants take flight every year, mainly to the province capital Florencia.  

Perspective for the Youth

Big problems in this region also are the rural exodus as well as the lack of prospects for the adolescents. Youths who don’t commit themselves to the cultivation of drugs and don’t want to become member of an armed group almost don’t stand a chance. That’s the reason why the Salesians founded the “Amazon City for Youths Don Bosco” (= Ciudadela Juvenil Amazónica Don Bosco).

At the corresponding agricultural school, up to 130 students are trained in “rural development” every year. The students start at the age of 15 and need a maximum of 3 years to accomplish their “bachiller técnico en desarrollo rural” (degree in rural development). They all come from poor families. Their degree is state-approved. The vocational training is a mix of theory and practice. In addition, Christian values are transmitted and awareness for the protection of the creation is built. The center also offers educational services to families and the close-by farmers.   

A big problem at the center is the supply of drinking water. Over the last 20 years, the center has always been supplied with river water, which led to infectious diseases over and over again. Many times, there was not enough water for crop farming. To solve this problem, a water treatment plant is being built now.

The Comparison

ColombiaGermany
Expectancy of life63.4 years80,7 Years
Childhood mortality under the age of 5
per 1,000 live births
17.74
Literacy rate of adults older than 1593.3 %n.s.
Population density (persons per km²)42.3234,6

Source: World Bank Development Indicators as of June 2013