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Wednesday 11 August 2004
Working abroad: James Eder
Written by James Eder, AIESEC member
James and Juliet with a class of children
James and Juliet with a class of children

James Eder is sharing his business skills with local people in Colombia this summer.

He's travelling abroad with the AIESEC student organisation, and he's writing a regular diary on BBC Birmingham.


Stevie Cameron
Stevie's in The Philippines.
Diary 1
Diary 2
CSR Conference
Diary 3
Diary 4

Andrew Webster
Andrew's in India.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Culture Shock!
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

Jess Rudkin
Jess is working in the Czech Republic.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

James Eder
James is sharing his marketing skills with local people in Colombia.
Diary 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Diary 6 - Aims
Diary 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11
Diary 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
Diary 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

Working with AIESEC
Jame Eder introduces the student organisation.

AIESEC in Birmingham
Amaneeta Shokur explains more about AIESEC and how she is involved.

Scheila came to Birmingham from Brazil on a student scheme run by AIESEC.

Students index

Profile of the South American country from BBC News.

Follow James' travels on this map of Colombia from Lonely Planet.

James' photos
Check out James' prints online.

Official website for the UK.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.



Population: 44.2 million (UN, 2003)
Capital: Bogota
Major language: Spanish
Major religion: Christianity
Money: 1 Colombian peso = 100 centavos
Exports: Petrol, coffee, coal, gold, bananas, flowers, chemicals, emeralds, cotton,, sugar, livestock


AIESEC (pronounced "i-sek") stands for the Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce.

AIESEC is the world's largest international student organisation with 30,000 members in over 86 countries.

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The Costa Atlántica Project

Into the third week here in Colombia I wanted to give you a run down of the foundation Juliet and me are working for and what we are trying to achieve during our two-month placement.

ICBF logo
ICBF logo

The Costa Atlántica Project has been functioning for over 25 years now with support of the Bernard van Leer Foundation coordinated in association with the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla. In this time it has contributed to the Integral development of approximately 80,000 children and its families, who participate in the different programs provided by the foundation.

Children drink juice
Having a glass of juice

The ICBF (Instituto Colombiano De Bienestar Familiar) is one of the main supporters of the Foundation. Its main objective is to promote and to strengthen the integration and development of the family, to protect children and guarantee their rights. The ICBF facilitates the National Family Welfare System of which the Foundation is a member.

The ICBF has assisted in the creation and support of the 'hogares' (pre-school), through providing funding for resources and feeding of the children with one main meal and two snacks per day.

Sustainable help

The Costa Atlántica Project runs the Foundation for the Development of Children, the Family and the Community. It is a community-based organisation with the aim of being sustainable helping the development of people in the area. To really explain what the organisation provides, a case study is described below.

Girls smiling
Girls smiling

Currently the foundation works in eight different communities with each location having slightly different needs and priorities.

Some of the locations of the pre-schools are simply based at people's homes in the community while others are located in community buildings. During the first few weeks we spent most of our time out of the office seeing the different locations, asking questions of the directors and assessing what really needs to be done and the priorities.

Case study: The Zona Negra Children's pre-school

A glimpse of hope in the depressed heart of the city. Since it started this pre-school has taken care of approximately 2000 children, and is located in the south of the city in the Rebolo district. Created in 1983, operating from four houses close to one another, it had 100 children a day from 8am to 1pm. In 1988, the Company Aguila Brewery donated the necessary resources for the construction of a premises on community land.

Food for 50 eaten by 70

Girls eat their meal
Girls eat a meal

At the moment in this home, 70 children aged 2-5 years are taken care of (reduced from 100 due to the size of the newer building), looked after during the day with the help of two teachers.

In this pre-school, the ICBF has reduced funding so it can only provide enough money for food per day for 50 children, but the food needs to be shared between all 70 children.

Stability in a Troubled Area

Girl plays with a gun
Girl plays with a gun

The area where the pre-school is based is surrounded by many social problems and is in the one of the more dangerous areas of the city. Drug addiction, theft and violent deaths have in the past been common. Fortunately, there is a mutual respect by the community for the pre-school, which provides some shelter from this troubled surrounding.

The pre-school is an essential part of the community as it not only educates the children, but also provides an aspect of regularity and stability amongst the daily challenges of the area. Most of the children who attend have working parents, and the schooling allows the parents to go out to work knowing their children will be looked after in a safe environment.

Aim of the Foundation

Children sit in a line
Children sit in a line

The Foundation aims to provide a solution to the problems and provide necessities, in turn increasing the education and social action in the local community. A key aspect is to integrate parents and the community in the activities that are developed by the foundation and positively impact the children.

This experience in the pre-school is often the only situation that the children who are taken care of have access to education, nutrition and stimulation.

Aim of our work

We're trying to see how resources can be used more efficiently as well as highlighting potential sponsors for the programme, not simply one-off payments, but sustainable partnerships for the long term.

Needs of the pre-schools

Old play area
Run-down play area

We have done a comprehensive study of what the needs of the pre-schools are. They do vary from school to school but the needs include the following list of items:

• Plastic chairs & tables
• Books
• Toys
• New toilets
• Playground facilities
• Kitchen utensils
• Mattresses for the children to sleep on in the afternoon siesta etc.

Empty toy shelf
Not enough toys

Money and donations are also being explored while we are approaching the manufacturers and suppliers in America and the UK to see if we can gain support, we are also looking for local support. Another approach we are taking is to contact schools and try to establish links where each year, second hand uniforms are sent over with toys and resources.

Juliet is currently working on a website to help in publicising our work and the foundation. See for more information.

If you would like more information or would like to assist us in our work (whether you're an individual, school or organisation) we would really appreciate any help you might be able to provide.
Please contact either me or Juilet:

Written by James Eder

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