WEEK #67 HOW ARE WE DOING? Tall palms, “fincas” & pools…

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Leaving Medellín, Colombia gave me familiar feelings, a bit sad, yet happy at the same time. Having met some really nice and inspirational people, wanting to get to know them better, but again, not able to do this. Still, there’s something to look back at and be proud of and new friends have been made.
If you’re ever in Colombia and will be visiting Medellín, which I highly recommend, then contact Alexander “Make” (through me), he’s your guy when you want a nice place to stay, you won’t regret it!

The “Naranja Mecánica” from Ed Veldhuisen was simply inspiring; so much positive change and so many children participating the programs his foundation offers. Lives are being changed; generations will be influenced by what is happening now. If you haven’t seen what 99%RIDE did in Medellín, click here.

Personally, I am truly proud of all the supporters that have helped out to make this possible. Results are being made (and seen) and hopefully you, the supporter, also “feel” the change when watching the mini-documentaries. Keep it up, there’s still a few projects in several countries that 99%RIDE is going to help out.

The road from Medellín to Armenia is breathtaking, as everything has been in Colombia so far. Passing towns and villages, guest rider Steven and I decided to get off the bicycles for an afternoon and visit some touristic spots around Armenia. Together with some fun people we met staying in Salento we decided to hike, not bike, to the nearby Valle Del Cocora. The hike is about 14 km long, during the hike you follow a rough path up to around 3000 meters to a small “finca” (Colombian farm/country house) which has some tasty warm chocolate served with cheese. Yes, you read it, hot choco and cheese. When enjoying this local delicacy, you’re surrounded by 6 kinds of hummingbirds zooming around you. Trying to get a picture was easier than I initially thought…

And then the rain came. But no matter, we were with a physically fit group and made our way back to the starting point rapidly, overlooking majestic mountains, clouds and the tallest palm trees (tall-palms?) in the world; reaching up to 60 meters high it’s quite a view, if there’s no clouds that is…

Now, in Armenia, I am again inspired by the work being done at the next project 99%RIDE is visiting; La Oportunidad. After arriving in this small city I met up with Patricia (social worker) and her mother Sobeida, volunteers for the foundation and our hosts for the next couple of days.
La Oportunidad is a foundation based in The Netherlands and Colombia. Its goal is to help children in the poorest neighbourhood of Armenia, Barrio La Mariela, receive extra personal care, education and help where it’s needed. This could be after school homework classes, a field trip with the group (at the moment there are about 30 children under the “guard” of the foundation in this neighbourhood), or just to talk about personal problems.

IMG_9807Together with a group of eight volunteers and 24 children, guest rider Steven and I joined the group on a field trip. The kind owner of a local “finca” had allowed the foundation to visit. The highlight of the day was the swimming pool, something most children haven’t even seen before, their amazement beaming on the large grin of their faces. A great site to see.
We played football, enjoyed a traditional Colombian lunch and laughed so hard that at the end of the day I was just as tired as I would be after a long day of cycling. Yet after a day out with the children, you receive so much love and energy, it’s truly rewarding.

The next few days I will be visiting the families of the children, being able to talk with the parents, often single mothers though, walk through and experience the neighbourhood they live in and take a look at the “casa” La Oportunidad has built in Barrio La Mariela. What I already notice is the clear impact the foundation has on the children; a positive change in thoughts, a look ahead and a chance to step out of poverty, breaking the cycle for generations to come.

Please keep following us to see what’s going to happen next. For now, thank you for supporting 99%RIDE.

Would you like to make a donation and make a difference in children’s lives? This can be recurring too, please visit our donation page.

From Armenia, Colombia,

Dirk Spits

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