Young migrants often face the incredible insecurities of dangerous travel alone. Leaving their homes in poverty for a promised better life, they struggle on foot to the nearest safe haven: in this case, Bogota, Colombia. However, Bogota cannot shelter them from all that they must suffer. Female migrants often must bring their children along with them, bound to their backs or in a sling across their chest. Young families or youths on their own also struggle. Can you imagine traversing the wilds of Colombia with a squalling infant and perhaps several other young children, or even worse, completely alone? And what of the weather, violence, or inevitable disease? How would you feel, as a mother, to watch your child succumb to forces wholly outside your control as you battle to bring them a better life? Who would take care of you if you travelled with no one but yourself for company?
To combat the miseries that migrants face daily, SIMN strives to build a Welcoming Center. This Center would become a safe haven for mothers and children, as well as youth seeking respite from the harsh realities of migration. The Center would offer basic necessities like clean and comfortable lodging, healthy food, and warm clothes for travellers; providing everyone with these simple services would boost their confidence in their ability to seek a better life across the world.
Illiteracy is as rampant as disease in Colombia: 10 percent of the population cannot read or write. Schools in rural areas often lack funding and basic supplies; thus, students often turn away from their studies, as they have not proved worthwhile or effective. If students are capable of graduating from high school, most cannot afford university studies. Furthermore, poverty is rampant: 34 percent of the country lives below the poverty line. Unemployment is high as well, nearly 10 percent of the working population is without a job. These factors multiply and combine like an unsolvable equation, where the only outcomes are bad and worse.
Young men disenchanted with their lives here can turn to a life of crime or drugs; they need support for day to day living, especially in poor, overpopulated urban centers. The dirt streets are filled with trash and entire families live crowded into two-room brick hovels that perch on steep mountainsides, threatening to collapse at a sneeze. In steps, SIMN plans a second Seminarian Training Program similar to that planned in Haiti. SIMN wishes to develop a program to train at-risk young men, ages 18-28, to become leaders within their community. Through emphasis on structure and ethical values, students in training become educated in both basic and the more complex issues that plague modern day Colombia. Enable students to attend this program, and you enable students to completely restructure their lives. They can build anew from the dirt and trash of their past and inspire others in their community to do the same.
Can you imagine living an illiterate life- not being able to read the newspaper, or the names of brands in the grocery store? How would you be able to get from place to place if you couldn’t read the letters on a street sign? What about getting a job- how would it be possible to apply if you didn’t even have enough education to read? Although these situations may seem nightmarish and unreal for those of us in first world countries, the harsh fact is that illiteracy is rampant in Haiti. According to 2013 CIA Factbook Data, only 52% of Haitians over the age of 15 can read and write. That’s barely half- and struggles have only continued for Haitians seeking education.
The 2010 earthquake only compounded Haiti’s prior difficulties educating its youth. Schools within Port-au-Prince and its neighboring regions were utterly destroyed- perhaps you remember the iconic photograph of Haiti’s National Palace, ruined in the quake? It has since been repaired, but much of the surrounding area, including its schools, is still in ruins, leaving nothing but blackened rubble and strewn for students. Port-au-Prince is still a land of furious destruction. And yet- there is hope. Despite the insurmountable challenges facing these young Haitians – school buildings wrecked, no funds to buy books, or supplies – they have demonstrated a fierce desire to learn and succeed.
SIMN admires these kids’ desire to learn, and with your help, plans to build schools in Haiti. In fact, SIMN wants to do much, much more than simply provide students with a place to learn. With your donations, SIMN hopes to cover the students’ tuition for school, their school supplies and books, provide clean, new uniforms, and backpacks. For the destitute, illiterate children in Haiti, education in their only hope- so please help SIMN give these children the knowledge they need to escape a life of poverty among the ruins.
Spending months at a time travelling the rough, wild seas across the globe, when seafarers reach Manta, Ecuador, they deserve a rest. Often, seafarers have not had contact with their families in months; they no next to nothing about their daughter’s first day of school, or their son’s fishing exploits. Worried spouses often wonder if their husbands are alive, as many families, especially in the Philippines, rely entirely on seafaring husbands to provide for them. But what of the seafarers themselves? Their wellbeing, already at stake on the dangerous global waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific, is often forgotten when they reach port.
SIMN strives to support these seafarers through their exhausting sessions at sea. Specifically, in Manta, SIMN plans a Welcoming Center devoted to seafarers just returning. At this center, seafarers will be able to relax and rest in dormitory style housing, enjoy a healthy, warm meal, and contact their loved ones all over the globe. Furthermore, seafarers will also be able to send money and well wishes to their families abroad, and hear what they have missed from their time at sea. Through this Welcoming Center, SIMN hopes to give these hard-working seafarers a break from their harsh lives out on the open water.
A torrent of Haitian refugees has flooded Manaus, Brazil, seeking to escape the ruined, diseased country they once called home. Migrants arrive in this Northern Brazilian province sweaty and tired, carrying their whole lives on their backs. Here, families shattered into pieces in the earthquake hope to reform and reshape their lives; children can attend Manaus’ schools, and parents can find work, perhaps in the strong industrial fields that provide the city with its commerce. In fact, SIMN provides refugees with opportunities to work all over the country. It is hoped that there will be plenty of food and less disease in the city; for once, tired Haitian migrants can sleep with a roof over their heads.
SIMN wishes to develop a specific program for the Haitian refugees in Manaus, as they seek official refugee status as environmental migrants – a right granted to the survivors of the earthquake. SIMN wants to establish a Welcoming Center for Migrants here to assist the refugees. Their needs are incredibly simple, and often rooted in the most basic hope for a better life. These migrants need simple sustenance, as well as legal support to declare their refugee status. Migrants arriving here would find hot, nutritious meals, clean, potable water, and sanitary bathroom facilities- all basic human comfort necessitates that we in the first world so often take for granted. Furthermore, staff at the Welcoming Center would work with migrants and the appropriate authorities to grant refugees their status as environmental migrants: a huge weight to lift off the shoulders of those who have already struggled so much.
Nature at its best is a formidable force. At its worst, it is a deadly force, capable of turning a summer thunderstorm into a disastrous tornado! Now imagine that you were suffering from all of nature’s instability, while traveling on foot, perhaps with your entire family. Add young children into the mix with hunger, and instability and violence, and you have a recipe for sheer chaos. On the road to safety, migrants fleeing their home countries often suffer from nature at its worst. Camping in tents or under trees, migrants cannot escape the weather, and worse, violence and terror from criminal gangs that populate South America. Much of Colombia is plagued by armed conflict and drug as well as human trafficking. Historically, the country is home to many of the most deadly and dangerous cities in the world. Safe shelter from the senseless violence is much sought after.
Enter Ipiales, a small city located on the Andean corridor in Colombia, close to the Ecuadorian border. SIMN wants to build a Welcoming Center for Migrants in Ipiales, Colombia, to provide safe and secure shelter for migrants. Thanks to your donations, migrants will be able to experience the comfort of a warm bed under a strong roof, and sleep without fear. In its newest Center, SIMN would build dormitory style housing complete with sanitary facilities to accommodate migrants on their journey to a better life. With these accommodations, migrants’ lives would be directly improved, as they would no longer have to fear the elements.
In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the pressures of extreme poverty have been overwhelming for the youth in Haiti. Many have lost their jobs along with their homes. Perhaps their families still lie buried beneath the rubble of some forgotten wreck, or in unmarked graves, lost to the cholera epidemic that still stalks the dirty streets. Young men, especially those in areas where the destruction was the worst, are in desperate situations. The lucky ones are able to escape Haiti and immigrate elsewhere, still, there are many left behind. And what becomes of the forgotten, the thousands of young men destroyed by the dual diseases of poverty and natural disaster? Lacking work and education, many resort to violence or fraud, and will attempt anything to stay alive.
SIMN’s Creating Young Leaders program aims to empower these young men to lead wholly different lives within the confines of their ruined homeland. Through comprehensive education and seminarian training, SIMN aims to create a strong sense of community despite the young men’s struggles with poverty. Each young man, age 18-28, is taught the value of leadership and structure in context with ethical values, giving them the tools they need to benefit both themselves and their communities. These men turn their lives around, almost literally, and find a positive space for themselves among the rubble. Entire communities are strengthened when their young men enter the Creating Young Leaders Program – because when they leave, they become leaders.
Beautiful Cucuta, Colombia is known as “la perla del norte”- the pearl of the North. This teeming city of more than 630,000 is connected by roads to Bogota, Caracas, and Cartagena. Furthermore, the city straddles the Venezuelan-Colombian border, making it an obvious refuge for desperate migrants. Migrants often arrive bedraggled, starving, and exhausted, with no more than what they can carry on their backs. Once they arrive to Cucuta, their trials are hardly over. Forget icy winds or searing heat- migrants must now face legal paperwork of disastrous proportions, unaided and overtaxed. Migrants are immediately thrust into a chaotic whirlwind of institutional complexities, which they must navigate to gain legal entry to their country of choice.
Here in Cucuta, Colombia, SIMN hopes to build a Center that provides legal counsel to incoming migrants. Cucuta is part of planned system of Welcoming Centers along the Andean quarter, serving migrants from Chile to Venezuela. Legal counsel is in dire need, as migrants are often overwhelmed by the incredible difficulties of the Colombian immigration system. Furthering their difficulties is the fact that many lack any legal form of documentation – even from their home countries. SIMN provides assistance with registering as a migrant or an asylum seeker and creating a valid legal identification document. SIMN gathers the appropriate paperwork and funds necessary for migrants to continue on their journey in peace, unbothered by legal snafus. Without SIMN, migrants would make it to Cucuta only to fall victim to the complicated immigration system facing them. Donate to be the Travellers’ Guide.
Three years have passed since the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti; however, the country still lies in ruins. Despite international humanitarian aid, life is bleak for Haitians in the city: more than 400,000 still live in tents, whose thin plastic walls do little to protect them from the searing summer sun or the rainy season’s torrential downpours. Cholera, a disease often forgotten in the first world, runs rampant here – a direct result of the destruction of the city’s sanitation systems.
Women and girls are especially vulnerable. Refugee camps are dangerous places for all who inhabit them; but females are at exceedingly high risk for rape and sexual assault. As the majority of camps lack security or electricity, nighttime becomes an evil time for those wishing to prey on women. The flimsy tents that house so many at the camps do nothing to deter forced entry; it is impossible to lock them, and tying them shut is ineffective at best.
SIMN has stepped in to aid the Haitian people still suffering from the earthquake’s devastation. Our main effort in Haiti is to build safe homes within a larger village complex to house displaced Haitians. As of 2013, we have already built a one village. Each village is composed of around 100 homes, each with concrete block walls and a poured concrete foundation, which provide a secure structure unlikely to collapse in the event of another disaster. Within each house, there are two bedrooms, a bathroom with modern plumbing and accessible water, and a kitchen. Large, airy porches give occupants with shade from the broiling Haitian sun, and strong metal roofs shelter each home from the fickle weather. Houses are painted bright colors and landscaped with local flowers, and each house has a white-shell path leading to its door. Each group of homes, when constructed, provides a post-card perfect snapshot of Haitian village life.
Our ultimate goal is to build an entire village of homes for the victims of the earthquake. Each home costs US $10,500 to build – a miniscule cost by first world standards, but expensive nonetheless. We can’t accomplish this target without your help. Join us in the mission to give Haitians a place to call home. Donate now.