TİKA Continues Its Support to Maintain Peace in Colombia

Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) continues to contribute to peacebuilding in Colombia with the Orejon School that was built in the town of El Orejón of the Antioquia Department in Colombia as well as through other projects it carries out.

The town of El Orejón, which is located in the Antioquia Department of Colombia, is called a “laboratory of peacebuilding.” As part of the peace process between FARC and the Colombian government which was initiated by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate former president Juan Manuel Santos, 17 different projects were carried out in El Orejón.

Antioquia, the department that El Orejón is located in, was the region with the most mines laid in Colombia. The peace process, which began by sweeping the mines in the area with the guidance of the former members of FARC, is being supported with a number of social and agricultural infrastructure projects.

As a result of the agreement that was signed in Cuba between FARC and the Colombian government, El Orejón became the first town that was cleared of mines. As the peace process progressed, TİKA built the Orejón School with Turkish motifs to replace a run-down old school in order to support the process by improving the social and economic infrastructure, in addition to the sweeping of the mines. The school still runs as one of the exemplary educational institutions in Colombia.

In addition to the school that was built and equipped by TİKA, two new libraries were established in Pueblo Nuevo and Briceño, the closest residential areas to Orejón, with the support of national and international organizations.

Furthermore, with the organization of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, eleven kids and their trainers from Orejón, Pueblo Nuevo and La Calera attended an exchange program for football as part of a Sports and Cultural Interaction Program in Germany.

The Orejón School, which was built and equipped by TİKA as part of the Peacebuilding in Colombia Project, also serves as a gathering point, where various activities are organized for the students and the residents of the area, in addition to the educational opportunities it provides.

In a program that was carried out in the Orejón School with the participation of students from neighboring schools and the residents of the area, TİKA donated “Nasreddin Hodja Stories” books in Turkish and Spanish, “Mangala” game sets, and puzzles that featured images from Turkey. People of the region expressed their gratitude for being able to use this school, which is a gift from Turkey, as a hub for cultural and social exchange.

 “It’s important to receive the support of a charitable country such as Turkey”

Maicoshe Correa Garcia, one of the students in Orejón School, stated his love for the new school and said, "The walls of the old school building were not painted. It was about to collapse because the walls were decaying. Thankfully they demolished the old building and built a new one. The new school offers different things. It has a library. The first and second graders have separate classrooms. It has a cafeteria."

Vivian A. Moreno, a parent, thanked Turkey and said that now the kids can go to school without worrying and have better educational opportunities.

One of the teachers at Orejón School, Morelia Martinez Mira said, "Projects like this yield marvelous results. It’s important to receive the support of a charitable country such as Turkey. There are many places that were affected by violence, just like here. Only generous people with a heart of gold can help these people."

Jaime Arturo Lopez, Orejón/Briceño District Director of Education, indicated that Orejón was exposed to violence, drug trafficking and armed conflicts for a very long time and that it is very important that international organizations such as TİKA operate in this region.