An image of Colombia Where Colombia is in the world.

Colombia is sometimes called the ‘gateway to South America’ because it sits where South America joins with Central and North America. Its landscape has huge variety; from beautiful beaches to snow -capped mountains, deserts and sweeping grasslands. 

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Compassion began working in Colombia in 1972.


Here are some basics:

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Chao/ Hasta luego

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The piranha

Piranhas have a scary reputation because of their powerful jaws and deadly razor-sharp triangular teeth.

In the poorer areas families live in small houses made from cinder blocks and covered with clay, cow manure, and hay.

Living conditions

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55.7 million

Compassion currently have 240 projects across Colombia.

Colombia has been known as one of the most violent countries in the world for many years.

The government has worked hard to change the violence in the country lately and in some areas things seem to be getting better although there are still many problems.

Over three million people, mostly women and children, have left their homes as a result of the dangers. There are laws to stop children being used to fight but there are still an estimated 7,000 child soldiers in different groups. These children are often homeless and forced to fight.

Compassion works with the most vulnerable children to prevent them from being used in this way.

Violence and gangs are common in Colombia. Maycol can tell you about it firsthand.

He says, “If I had not been in the Compassion project, I probably would be in a jail. I would not be alive.”

Maycol Ossa is 19 and lives with his parents, three siblings and nephews in the suburbs of Medellin, Colombia. His house is one of the highest on the slope of a mountain that people can get to by walking up long, steep steps.

At six, Maycol was enrolled in a Compassion project near his house. His family were very poor and his mother worked hard as a cleaner but barely got paid enough to feed the family.

The family’s neighbourhood has been riddled with violence for many years. One day, Maycol’s older brother, Leonardo, was murdered. Leonardo had become involved in drugs, and a local armed gang killed him. Maycol and his sister heard the shots and saw the gang run away. Hatred for the boys filled Maycol’s heart.

Some days later, motivated by revenge, Maycol, who was only 11 years old, decided to join another armed gang in his neighbourhood, hoping they would hurt the other gang for his brother’s death.

During this time Maycol continued going to the Compassion project. His tutors spent time with him, knowing about the gang culture that was so easy to get involved in. They spent time with him, supporting him and telling him about how much God loved him and wanted more for him than this violence.

Maycol began to be touched by this; he started to see his mother’s worry for him and realise that he did not want to end up like his brother. One day Maycol decided to change his life and leave the gang. Sadly, it’s hard for people to leave gangs; in Maycol’s they often killed anyone who tried. The day Maycol decided to tell the gang’s leader that he would leave, the police captured all of the members, leaving Maycol free. Maycol could see God’s hand in his life as he knew He had rescued him.

When Maycol decided to accept Jesus in his heart, he knew that forgiving others was the first step he had to take. He stopped hating those boys who had killed his brother.

Maycol now volunteers in his community, working with young people who find themselves involved with gangs. He wants them to know how much God loves them.

Pray for God’s protection for children in Colombia.

May the children sponsored through Compassion tell others about Jesus’ love for them and change the country to a peaceful place.

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Colombian Peso

The peso has been the currency of Colombia since 1810.

Over 62,000 Colombian children are supported through Compassion.

How can you encourage your sponsored child?

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Why not write to them and mention some of the facts you’ve found here. Ask them questions about what it’s like to live in Colombia.

Colombia has a wide range of foods as some people live by the sea, some live in the mountains and some live in the rainforest. As well as this, people have come to live there from different countries bringing many different foods and recipes with them.

Recipe: Ajiaco

a Colombian chicken, corn and potato stew

Ajiaco Ingredients (adult help needed)
  • 4 chicken breasts with skin
  • Salt and black pepper to season
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1kg of potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 3 ears of corn, cut into 2 centimetre pieces
  1. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in a saucepan with the butter, skin side down. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  2. Add onion and oregano to the pan and lightly fry for about five minutes.
  3. Add the chicken, stock and water to the pan. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until cooked through for about 25 minutes.
  4. Shred the chicken, add the potatoes, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the corn. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5-10 minutes.
  6. Serve with cubed avocado and sour cream.

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Colombia is part of the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ – the name given to an area of the world that frequently gets earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Where do piranhas keep their money?

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In the river bank.

Information sources: The CIA World Fact Book 2011, Compassion International, Human Development Report, BBC, BBC Nature, Wikipedia