Yesterday, I wrote about Boca Azul in Cartagena, Colombia. Boca Azul is supported by Foundation Casa Italia, and it is a school in La Boquilla that serves more than 300 of the poorest children who are in the need of the most help. The children who attend Boca Azul are between the ages of 1 to 14 years old and receive a full-time education, school support, one meal per day (which makes this the only place in the city for children to receive a free meal), first aid and medical attention, and after school activities. While taking a tour of Boca Azul, some of the students put on a show for us, and as you can see based on the picture below, they performed traditional dances of the area. The students pictured below are some of the most hardworking students in the school with the highest grades, and as a reward, they are able to learn the traditional dances. They took so much pride in their performance, and as you can imagine, it was a beautiful sight to see.
After canoeing in La Boquilla, we took a tour of a local school, Boca Azul, which is supported by Foundation Casa Italia. Boca Azul is a school that serves more than 300 children in La Boquilla, and they serve the poorest children who are in the need of the most help. The children who attend Boca Azul are between the ages of 1 to 14 years old and receive a full-time education, school support, one meal per day (which makes this the only place in the city for children to receive a free meal), first aid and medical attention, and after school activities. Keep in mind, this is an area where most children in similar situations would not receive any sort of education or medical attention, so Boca Azul is an incredible organization helping children who would otherwise have no hope for a brighter future.
Boca Azul was founded by Guiseppe Mazzoni, a long-standing Official and General in the Italian Airforce and his wife Rosy Soprano. Having moved from Italy, Rosy explains, “It was more than absolute poverty and malnutrition. The absence of any family support for these children abandoned in the street and ignored by all really opened our eyes. We had to do something.” Rosy and Guiseppe created a cultural center known as the Foundation Casa Italia in the city that promotes Italian culture, with hopes of increasing locals’ knowledge of Italy and its culture. Through their foundation, they have been able to start Boca Azul, which is the only school in the area that teaches Spanish, Italian, and English for free.
The children in Boca Azul spoke and sang to us in Spanish, Italian, and English, and some of them even put on a show for us! It was truly an incredible opportunity to see such a great school and to meet Rosy and Guiseppe. They are such selfless individuals who have dedicated their lives to helping provide these children with childhoods and futures that they deserve.
To learn more about Boca Azul, you can visit their website at: http://www.casaitaliaong.org/it/indexEN.html
Upon waking up in the morning, we began our day by heading out to La Boquilla, a fisherman village in Cartagena where individuals from class zero and class one live (the two lowest socioeconomic classes in the city). La Boquilla is considered to be a fisherman village because the main activity for locals here is fishing. Fishing is so great in this area because the ocean is connected to the swamp, so local fisherman are able to catch fish from both areas of water. If you were to go to the village at 5:30am, you could purchase caught fish that are still alive, swim in the local water, and go prepare your freshly caught lunch.
There is a lot of construction taking place around La Boquilla, especially the building of hotels, so the locals have worked out a deal with the government. The deal is that hotels building around La Boquilla must employ 20 percent of their staff from the area. In addition, the must either feed these individuals once a month, or educate them in order to help give back to this community.
La Boquilla is known for having the biggest natural reserve in Cartagena. Mangroves here grow up and down, similar to the path of a circle. This is because when the mangrove grows downwards, it creates a new mangrove tree that continuously repeats the process. You can also tell the color of the mangrove by looking at the bottom of the trunk. The colors can be black, red, or white.
Something interesting about La Boquilla is the fact that numerous members of the community come together to raise money for one another and for their neighborhood. This is evident in the fact that some members make the canoes by hand, others row the canoes when tourists come to town, and a select few are in charge of organizing visits from tour groups in Cartagena. These canoe rides, offered on what is called a bote canoa chalupa (or small canoe boat), are a main source of income to the locals in La Boquilla, and they take great pride in the work that they collectively do.