Colombia is one of the top five most unequal countries on the planet — the divide between the haves and have-nots is staggering, and overwhelmingly it is the afro and indigenous communities of Colombia that suffer most. Loving Cartagena for me doesn’t just mean loving the small, picturesque tourist sector that gets plastered across Instagram, it means loving all its people and wanting to help them fight the extreme social injustice present. With this aim I would like to highlight FEM (Fundacion por la Educacion Multidimensional), a non-profit organization operating in Cartagena that works to empower indigenous and afro communities to create a better future by supporting sustainable development projects. What resonates most profoundly with me is the commitment to sustainability. The foundation runs their own hostel, the income from which offsets office and administration costs almost 100%, meaning money raised can go directly to supporting social enterprises and development projects. Some initiatives include a café (Café Stepping Stone) where at-risk youth receive a paid internship (normally these are youth who have never been previously employed), and are taught café and bar skills and mentored through the process of applying for other employment opportunities; a catering business (Meraki) run by women from indigenous communities (their sesame seed tahini is incredible!) and an artisanal homewares range (Ninha) utilizing traditional pre-Colombian Zenu weaving techniques to create lampshades made of cana flecha. The foundation also helps with sustainable housing projects with build-days multiple times throughout the year (volunteers welcome).
In order to support the work of FEM, I have created a 5-day package tour of Cartagena which includes accommodation, activities, some meals and private tours with me. The plan is that this package will be offered twice a year for a group of 14 people and all profits will be donated to FEM. Anyone interested can contact me for more information.
To support the work of FEM sustainable housing projects donate here.