About Plan Padrino
The YMCA-Ibague created the “Plan Padrino” program in 1998 as a solution to the social problems that thousands of kids in Ibague face in their everyday lives. Plan Padrino, which means "plan godfather", was established to aid in continuing the education of underprivileged students in the village of Ibague Colombia. Children in the village live in extreme poverty conditions and high risk environments; in which they have to work and help sustain their families economically, therefore, quitting school and being exposed to child abuse, sexual harassment, drugs and prostitution. Plan Padrino arises as their only chance to have a normal and healthy childhood and provides them with hope to make a change in their lives and dream with a better future for them and their families.
To qualify for the program, families need to show special interest in overcoming their difficulties by allowing their kids to return to school and participate in the YMCA programs. To stay in the program children between 7-18 years old need to have excellent academic records, participate in daily school reinforcement, and be committed to the programs of the YMCA. the families of the Colombian children must send their children to school through the beginning stages, similar to a US elementary education program. This can be difficult for the families because there is no free public education in the Colombia, but if they succeed, then they are able to move on to the next level.
Once the students and their families have shown that they desire to move into the secondary education level, they can apply to be a part of the Plan Padrino program (this is where your help comes in). In the Plan Padrino program it costs around $150 per year to fund one student with the basics they need and pay for tuition to the school. This money goes to get text books, uniforms, supplies and for the actual cost of attending the school. In the school students learn skills that will allow them to escape the perpetual cycle of poverty that is inherent in Colombia.
The skills they learn include: English communication both written and spoken (an essential skill to be a part of the business community), mathematics, Spanish language, and history. The Tennessee YMCA Youth in Government program (YIG) is able to sponsor 42 children in the school through funds donated at the annual conferences, but the waiting list for students to get into the school is hundreds of names long.
Without Plan Padrino, the children of Ibague would have no "godfathers" to take care of them and give them hope for escaping the cycle of poverty, instead they would be predestined to continue their lives of manual labor, struggling each day just to have enough to eat. Whether you donate a single dollar or decide to fund a child for a year, any contribution that you make will be wired directly to the school in Ibague, Colombia, and the children will receive 100% of that funding. The YMCA of Middle Tennessee Youth in Government program is a partner with the Ibague YMCA, and we keep none of the money sent in as donations.
If you are unable to aid with financial support, please take the time to sign up to be a pen pal and help the students already enrolled to practice their English communication, and if you happen to speak Spanish, the students would love to help you practice your Spanish communication while they work to improve their English. These students need your help, so no matter how you can contribute whether financially, through correspondence or simply by including the children in your prayers... anything that you do will truly benefit the students and be greatly appreciated by each and every one of them.