March 29, 2017 | Barrancabermeja, Santander, Colombia | Shirley Rueda/IAD Staff
Eight-year-old Gabriela Rico, a student at the Libertad de Barrancabermeja Adventist School in Barancabermeja, Colombia, recently needed to complete a social studies assignment that would detail the accomplishments of the nation’s president. So she went online to contact Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos.
“I found something on the internet about the president but I didn’t understand it because it was written for adults,” said Gabriela. So she wrote the following on his Facebook page: “Mr. President Santos, my name is Gabriela Rico and I am eight years old. In my school, I was asked to find out what your accomplishments are as president, but I have not found much on the internet. Can you please help me?”
Two days later President Santos sent a video addressing Gabriela and gave her the answers she needed. The video went viral, and soon local and national media wanted to know Gabriela’s story.
“I had no idea that so many people would come, but I was sure the president could respond to me because he is a normal, common person,” said Gabriela. She was happy that the president took time to answer her.
For Gabriela it was an opportunity to witness her faith. Because the response from President Santos came in on Friday evening, Gabriela noticed his reply after Sabbath church activities that evening. She sent a video thanking President Santos for his response.
“I want to thank you Mr. President for answering me, and I am going to tell you that I had not replied because I am a Seventh-day Adventist and spent the day at church and had not been able to answer you,” said Gabriela in a video message.
“It was quite a surprise and a proud moment to see the response from the president and see when a student goes beyond what he or she is asked to do,” said Titiana Murallas, Gabriela’s fourth-grade teacher.
On February 27, Gabriela presented her homework and got the highest grade possible. President Santos congratulated Gabriela on his twitter and Instagram accounts.
The assignment was meant to help children identify promises that the president had accomplished so they could see the importance of being a good leader and following through with what you say, explained Murallas. “I also wanted to foster investigative and critical thinking.”
“Each one of us has responsibilities at home, at school or at work, like the adults,” said Gabriela. “We are children, and even though we are children, soon we will be big and we should always be responsible and persevere.”
Gabriela wants everyone to learn about Jesus “because He is the one who created us, who gave us life, who gives us health, and gives us a family. I want children to get to know Jesus who is the greatest discovery anyone can make,” she said.
Seeing Gabriela growing up with moral values and biblical principles at home and school makes her Principal Marisol Carreño very happy. “Our teachers are instruments used by God to share the truth every morning with worship and prayer times, teaching children how our Divine Teacher can intercede on our behalf,” said Carreño.
Libertad de Barrancabermeja Adventist School is a K-5th grade school and one among 17 primary and secondary schools in North Colombia.