On January 13th, MFI awarded 27 scholarships. This represents an increase from last year. In addition, a 28th scholarship was given by a retired Colombian university professor and friend of MFI.
Under the Paso a Paso initiative, we awarded 11 scholarships to children in elementary school and 5 scholarships to children in high school. This new members of the MFI family belong to displaced indigenous groups. Some activities under the Paso a Paso program take place at the schools where the children study and they include the entire class room. There are 8 children who study in different class rooms and 42 students per class room what means that these activities benefit 336 children.
This development reflects a 23% increase in Colombian students who are benefiting from the educational program of MFI and Paso a Paso. It is of particular interest to report that a girl in elementary school belongs to the Wayúu Indigenous group and one college scholarship went to an Arzario Indigenous young man, who is pursuing a law degree at the University of Magdalena.
During the ceremony we presented diplomas of recognition to mothers who are Heads of Family and who have started their own businesses thanks to loans from The Colombia Project initiative and donations from the local government. These mothers have organized two foundations under the orientation and assistance of FUNDEHUMAC. They are FUNDEHUVICOL (Colombian Foundation for Human Rights Defense of Victims of Violence) and FUNDECOINDIGENAS (Development and Defense of Colombian Indigenous Communities Foundation). There are 29 loan recipients of The Colombia Project and 48 donation beneficiaries, of which 15 are indigenous women. They are 4 men and 73 women and their families have an average of 6-7 members. In essence, this means that our students, through their training, mentoring, business monitoring and evaluation activities, are helping about 477 people. Some loan and donation recipients are mothers of some children in the Paso a Paso program. They are being trained and encouraged to help in the educational process. This practice seems to be met with acceptance and children are responding well. In short, MFI, Fundehumac, Friends of Colombia and The Colombia Project are making a substantial contribution that cannot be under estimated. Home visits to some micro enterprises have yielded amazing surprises. These women posses great resiliency and their ability to survive with very little surpasses the imagination.
Additionally, our graduated students are working with children in poor communities, gangs and abandoned children who are experimenting with drugs in cities such as Santa Marta, Pamplona, Medellín, Bogotá and other municipalities in the State of Magdalena. One example is Alex Cuello, one of the MFI scholars who will graduate in June and is already working as the Treasurer of a small company. He is sponsoring a child in his barrio of La Paz.