Future for young people in the countryside

The decades-long armed conflict in Colombia has left deep traces in the population. Everyday life was long characterized by violence, people were displaced and farming communities destroyed. The family of 23-year-old farmer Luz Dey Aguirre had to flee. But her story gives hope and shows that a dignified future is also possible in the countryside. is possible. 

Luz Dey Aguirre looks out over the lush green forests, clear rivers and gentle slopes around her village of El Silencio ("The Silence"). Here in the rural part of the department of Antioquia in north-western Colombia, all seems right with the world. But Luz Dey Aguirre's story does not begin in this idyllic setting. As a child, her family had to flee the violent clashes between the government and paramilitary groups. Luz Dey Aguirre, her parents, two sisters and two brothers have found a new home in the small hamlet of El Silencio. The family cultivates their own fields and runs a fish farm. In addition to growing bananas, manioc, corn and beans, they also produce coffee. However, as the price of coffee and the cost of fertilizer fluctuate greatly, the income is not always sufficient. 

Youth meetings and movie nights 

Luz Dey Aguirre has been going to the meetings of our partner organization ACA (Asociación Campesina de Antioquia) since she was a child. "I went with my friends and immediately felt at home. The film evenings for the whole community, which ACA still organizes today, are still important dates for me." Luz Dey Aguirre was able to attend compulsory school in neighboring villages, but for high school she had to move in with relatives in the district's capital, Argelia de María. As there are hardly any income opportunities for young people in the countryside, many do not return to their villages after school but stay in the city. Some of them come into contact with drugs, start using them themselves and are recruited - whether voluntarily or under pressure - into the drug trade. Others see no other option than to prostitute themselves. 

Creating prospects in the countryside 

Our partner organization ACA has been working since 2009 to improve the prospects for young people and young adults in the eastern, rural part of the department of Antioquia. This region was affected more than others by violence and serious armed conflicts between the government and FARC groups. As a result, countless people moved to the cities. In many places, however, the rural identity was lost and communities broke apart. For this reason, ACA is training 220 young farmers in twelve villages in traditional and organic farming methods. Among other things, they learn how to plant vegetable gardens and fish ponds, raise poultry and grow herbs. This not only secures the livelihood of the young people and their families, but also preserves traditional smallholder knowledge. The produce is marketed regionally and some of it is destined for their own use. 

From the school desk to the vegetable garden 

"After graduating from high school, I moved back to my family in El Silencio. I soon took part in ACA's organic farming training course. I wanted to learn more about organic farming, farmers' rights, handicrafts and traditional Colombian dances. Together with the ACA staff and other young people in the village, we planted many vegetable gardens and set up fish farms. Today, I am a rural youth advisor and can share my knowledge of organic farming and rural culture with other young people from the whole region. That gives me a good feeling."  

Luz Dey Aguirre says that her view of life has changed. "Many people assume that there is no future worth living in the countryside. I and many other young people are proof that this is not the case. I like being a farmer and a role model for the younger course participants." 

Helping to shape the future 

In addition to her work as a farmer and advisor, Luz Dey Aguirre is also a member of her community's youth council. They deal with youth issues, strengthen youth processes and present projects in order to receive financial support. In the beginning, they received little support from the mayor's office. This has changed since the youth council of El Silencio was recognized as the best municipal youth council in the department of Antioquia in 2022. "I am very proud of that. I see it as my duty to get involved in the youth council so that the rural youth are not forgotten."  

When asked what Luz Dey Aguirre wants for the future, she reflects briefly: "My wish is that we can earn our entire living by selling our products and that our living conditions continue to improve as a result." She has a plan to make this a reality: she wants to grow and sell medicinal plants. Our partner organization ACA is supporting her with training and professional guidance. 

Sustainable livelihoods

Young people from rural areas, such as Luz Dey Aguirre, find it particularly difficult to realize their dream of a better life. They live in regions that are disproportionately affected by conflict or the consequences of climate change. We work with local partner organizations in Africa and Latin America that give young people access to vocational training. Together, we support disadvantaged young people in setting up a small business in sustainable agriculture that enables them to earn an income. This improves their living conditions.

Your donation creates prospects for young people. It not only enables access to education and professional development, but also promotes the development of sustainable agricultural projects. Together we can create positive change. Thank you very much for your support.

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