El Caracoli is an early childhood development centre based in Yumbo, Colombia.
It was created in 2010 by Smurfit Carton de Colombia Foundation (FSCC) in close cooperation with other foundations working in the country. The Smurfit Kappa Foundation has pledged to provide funding to El Caracoli to construct a new centre for under-privileged children in the region and to provide an integrated programme which includes education, nutrition and basic care.
Why El Caracoli?
Yumbo is an industrial city near Cali, Colombia, where Smurfit Kappa’s main production plant is based. Thus, as with other projects supported by our Foundation, one of the main incentives in getting involved was to improve the social and economic structure of one of the communities in which we operate.
Colombia’s statistics in terms of early childhood care, health and education are poor, and Yumbo is no exception. There are high levels of sexual violence against young children; high rates of infant mortality (often violent) and chronic malnutrition in children under five, and there is a lack of specialised programmes for the care of babies and young children. The local community in Yumbo has suffered from the violent conflict in Colombia, and consequently suffers high unemployment and poverty.
What El Caracoli does:
The El Caracoli project addresses the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to eradicate poverty, reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health. The project targets children under six who come from a low socio-economic background. El Caracoli provides these children and their families with basic medical care, nutrition, education and development monitoring.
This initiative is the first public/private partnership in the region which is aligned with a Presidential programme that has focused on the importance of early childhood development as a crucial aspect in the country’s future.
With funding from the Smurfit Kappa Foundation, El Caracoli will build and equip a new space which will allow over 300 babies and young children from the local community to make use of the services provided by this project. These children will be given access to a caring environment which encourages health and education. Space will be provided for parents in order to strengthen the role of the family in the development of their children. Parents will also be encouraged and provided with room to get involved in public institutions which affect the rights of children and families. Ultimately, the goal of this project is to provide children in the local area with the educational and social tools required to be proactive members of their community and to end the cycle of poverty.
As this is the first project if its kind in this region, the aim is that it will serve as model for other projects and will be replicated in other communities across Colombia.