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Rose of Sharon School Program

The Problem

Colombia is rich in diversity from its people, cultures, and historic cities to its lush rainforest, towering mountains, and coffee plantations. But the country has also been ravaged by decades of violent conflict involving outlawed armed groups and drug cartels. These conditions have brought a widespread displacement of people who have fled rural violence.

Over 10,000 people have settled in La Playa, on the outskirts of Barranquilla, and live in substandard housing. Unemployment in this community is over 80% and poverty is a daily reality with many children being raised by single mothers.

The Colombian government is working at repatriating these families but the process is slow. International Needs Canada is committed to working in areas like La Playa that are hard hit by poverty and injustice, and partners with national leaders to help bring about lasting change.

The Program

Attorney and child advocate, Martha Villamizar, became aware of the plight of La Playa’s children when her husband began a small church in the area. She quickly identified an important need that she could help meet – education. Leaving the legal profession and moving to La Playa, Villamizar was given a piece of land by the Colombian government and in 1994 she opened the Rose of Sharon School.

Today, with the support of International Needs, over 500 children from pre-kindergarten to high school are receiving a quality, government-approved education. However, many of La Playa’s children are still waiting for the support that will enable them to go to school.

Your Gift Makes a Big Difference!

  • Through Child Sponsorship, a struggling family is given hope that their child’s future can be full of promise and they can escape the crushing poverty they have known.
  • The school’s Vocational Centre is also impacting lives by teaching women in the community how to sew. Education and skills development play an important role in the economic and social well-being of La Playa’s families. The women make uniforms for hospitals and schools. The sale of these items help fund the school’s programs.

Jaime, a former graduate of Rose of Sharon School, excelled in his studies. After graduation, he received a scholarship from the Coast Corporation University and is working on his degree in civil engineering. His project on The Reuse of Waste Generated by Water Purification was selected to be presented at the REHABEND Congress in Spain this past May. What an amazing experience for Jaime! He is so grateful for the education and support he received at the Rose of Sharon School that wants to develop a math and physics program for the school as a way of saying thank you to God and the school.


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