Until the end of the year I am going to use my blog to tell the story of the Vive Foundation and the Funky Frog Clubs in Spanish, the same story I told in English in September.

Normal service in English will be restored in the New Year, all being well.

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In case of emergency

Last weekend I was at our final Children’s Club leaders’ camp in a place called Turbo, in a part of Colombian that has been particularly badly affected by the armed conflict.

We were wonderfully hosted by a local church and we ate our meals in their Children’s Centre.

This poster, of what to do in an emergency, caught my eye.

The four emergencies mentioned are earthquake, flood, fire… and shoot-out.

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Three more

Draft2Digital is an amazing site that takes your book, converts it into an e-reader-friendly format and gets it listed on a range of online retailers, all for free!

Thanks to them, The First Colombian in Space is now available on the following sites:


Amazon, of course, does things their own way but they don’t mind if your work appears on other sites as long as you don’t charge less for it there. The First Colombian in Space is available there, too.

All the proceeds to the Vive Foundation and the Funky Frog Clubs.

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Here’s a funny thing

Yesterday at the mall, a security handed me this flyer.

It said, that to keep (presumably caped) children safe that day (Halloween), the escalators would be switched off.

On the back of the flyer there was some sensible advice, pointing out that children in costumes were easy to mix up, and recommending that parents check any sweets that children were given and not to let to let children speak to strangers.

But here’s the funny thing, for the couple of hours I was in the mall at least, the escalators were running as normal.

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Another story

As promised, here is another story about Venezuelans in Colombia.

Last week, I was out for lunch with a couple of friends and I heard the young woman taking my money say “Chamo,” to the young man who was serving me.

Chamo is the Colombian nickname for Venezuelan.

We ended up having a wee chat. He has been in Colombia for a couple of years and is doing well. He now has stable employment (at the beginning he just had to take whatever came to hand), he has his papers in order and is paying his health insurance and into a pension.

An exemplary immigrant story.

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What would you ask for?

Today and tomorrow I’m going to tell you two stories about Venezuelans in Colombia.

The first I heard in a sermon preached by a friend of mine who lives in Cucutá, near the border with Venezuela.

He and his wife had welcomed a Venezuelan couple into their home. One day, they offered to buy the Venezuelan couple a gift, anything they liked.

The husband chose a serving of McDonalds fries.

The wife asked for a bottle of shampoo.

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Setting: A café in a mall.

Me, having coffee. Opposite me, two men, one middle-aged, one young, are having a business meeting.

Behind the young man, and technically at my table, there is a backpack sitting on a chair.

The two men do not check the backpack periodically. I therefore deduce that they are not Colombian.

Then they get up to go and leave the backpack behind.

“Gentlemen (in Spanish, señores),” I say, ever the concerned citizen. “You’ve left your backpack.”

“Ah yes,” says the young man, with no apparent alarm, and returns to pick it up.

“It’s a packback bomb,” he says, laughing, and off he goes.


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First time

On Monday I was on the bus from my office to the metro when a vendor got on and started his patter, selling sweets. I knew immediately he wasn’t local from his accent and wasn’t surprised when he said he was Venezuelan. I have had Venezuelan taxi drivers here in Medellín, seen Venezuelans selling arepas and a Venezeluan has done my nails, but this was the first time I had seen a Venezuelan selling on the buses.

His story was one we have heard over and over again from Venezuelans in Colombia: driven to desperation by shortages of essential items, they have come to Colombia to make some money to send back to family members left behind; in the case of my sweetie-vendor, his baby son.

With no end in sight to the turmoil in Venezuela, my guess is that this man will not be the last Venezuelan I encounter selling on the buses in Medellín.

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Part 2

More of evidence of Colombians’ general awesomeness comes from the camps we hold for our leaders every year. The camps run from Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime and the Saturday evening is the time for the leaders’ talents to shine.

Last year, we studied the life of Paul and the leaders were divided into groups to dramatize episodes from his life, which they did with great gusto.

This year we upped the ante, giving the leaders the task of developing one area of our new Child Protection Policy and then presenting it in some dramatic way. The areas were things like:

  • who should be a Children’s Club leader and what process should they undergo to be accepted into the team.
  • what should be our policy with regard to photos and other information about children.
  • how can we ensure that every leader has the necessary training in this area.
  • how can we ensure that children are safe at all times in a Funky Frog Club.
  • what steps should we take in the case of misconduct and what the repercussions should be.

Quite tricky things! But the dramatizations were brilliant, often getting to the heart of the problem and as a bonus, showing me what the leaders had already internalized in the previous Child Protection Training. There was some wonderful improvised acting, clever scenarios even some multimedia presentations.

All done cheerfully, in virtually no time and with virtually no resources.

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