In Colombia, the partnership between MFI and FUNDEHUMAC has proven to be a unique model of educational and social development. Under Fundehumac's leadership, MFI students have made meaningful contributions in communities in Santa Marta and other urban and rural areas in the Department (State). Volunteers who work with our students in Colombia include a journalist, a lawyer, sociologists, psychologists, a professor of business and finance, systems engineers, an agronomist, an accountant, a medical doctor, an architect and community leaders with thorough experience and knowledge of the problems that affect their society. The target population involved in the program includes displaced families, the elderly population, children, indigenous groups, abused people and our students.
MFI receives support from Friends of Colombia (FOC), which is a group of former Peace Corps volunteers who continue to have an interest in the well being of the people in Colombia, and the developmental work that they were involved in during their years as volunteers. Although there have not been volunteers in Colombia for more than 25 years, FOC continues to provide support to worthwhile projects in the country. MFI has benefited from FOC's interest in its work; the president of FOC is a Board member of MFI and FOC has provided three or four scholarships to the Foundation each year for the past three years.
In 2005, FOC provided a small fund to buy uniforms, books and shoes for eight poor children who did not attend school for lack of resources. This program was named: Paso a Paso (Step by Step). FUNDEHUMAC and MFI students managed and monitored this program. In 2013, the program provided funds to support 35 students (20 children in elementary school and 15 in secondary school). However, Fundehumac through MFI scholars work with approximately 100 children who benefit from the social and mentoring support provided to them. All this has been possible because Grupo Bolivar, in Colombia, has made two meaningfull contributions to the program. In addition to the educational support, the children receive medical and emotional help and in some cases other members of the families receive assistance. This partnership is a creative and efficient approach to help poor children. This is an unexpected phenomenon that is creating positive changes in those children's families, and we will continue to encourage these developments.