December 8, 2016 | Uribia, La Guajira, Colombia | Shirley Rueda/IAD
Some 600 children from the Wayuu ethnic community in Uribia, La Guajira, North Colombia, received a new bicycle thanks to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its members who volunteered to motivate children to attend school every day. The initiative coined as “Wheels to Educate” concluded its annual initiative by delivering the bicycles to one of the most drought-stricken areas, Nov. 7-12, 2016.
“This event has caused such a great impact in this needy community,” said Mauricio Buitrago, youth ministries director for the church in North Colombia and organizer of the initiative. “Many of the children here have to walk three or four hours every day on dirt roads, under the desert climate, to get to their school.”
Buitrago said that more than 100 volunteers, many from Colombia Adventist University in Medellin, and church members took part in providing the much needed wheels.
“As a Seventh-day Adventist Church, we believe that to educate is to redeem,” said Buitrago. “So if our children study, if your children are formed, we will have dedicated professionals who can really live to serve the community.”
The “Wheels to Educate” initiative consisted of collecting bicycles in good condition, which were then fixed and painted thanks to donations by private businesses and volunteer work by church members and friends, said Buitrago. The initiative was coordinated with the Uribia’s Office of Social Work.
“We are so thankful to God for this great initiative by the Adventist Church,” said Jaineth Daza, social work leader in Uribia. “There are many children who do not get any education because they don’t have this type of transportation and this is a great help these children from these vulnerable regions that not only need water and food but a way to get to school.”
In addition to the bicycles, volunteers also cleaned up parks and streets, held health brigades, offered dental services, and delivered clothes and meals for the children in the region.
“We ask God that this project can continue multiplying here so that more children, persons and families can benefit,” said Yérica Gutiérrez, director of the Jururá Educational Center.
The local media covered the initiative as well as the Guajira News Channel dedicated several television slots to the work of the church in the region.
Earlier this year, ADRA Colombia and its volunteers provided aid in La Guajira.