AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Basic education and healthcare, feeding and vaccination programmes: service for 500 poor people in shanty towns in south eastern Bogota

Friday, 23 July 2004

Bogota (Fides Service) - The situation of human rights in Colombia is one of the worst in all Latin America, although the country’s democracy is one of the oldest on the continent. Extra judicial executions, kidnappings, violence on women and children have reached an epidemic diffusion in recent years. Colombia has the world’s highest murder rate: in Colombia since the 1990s each day about 100 people are murdered. According to government information 96% of these crimes go unpunished.
The slum dwellers are poor, some luckier ones work but for a miserable wage. Thousands of children at the young age of 13 look for jobs, but few find them. Many, like their parents, are unable to read or write. Healthcare is a service which they have never had.
In Bogota there is a community of Camillan Fathers engaged in healthcare pastoral. The Fathers set to work to do something for these poor people. Many of the children are sick, some with cancer; the parents are unable to pay healthcare or schooling. Every day mothers come knocking on the door of the Camillian Fathers asking for help to pay school fees.
For 18 years Father Dino De Zan has organised social assistance in poor districts of Bogota. Today he runs three medical centres which offer free assistance to 100 families, of an average of 5 members; this means he helps about 500 of the poorest people in shanty towns in south east Bogota. The services offered include: medical examination; laboratory tests; scanning, radiology, endoscope, dental care, eye specialist care, gastroenterology.
The Camillians also run programmes for the vaccination for children and assistance for elderly people and pregnant mothers.
One of the most important activities is care for pregnant mothers and mother and new born babies in the first year as well as regular health care and vaccination campaigns. (AP) (24/7/2004 Agenzia Fides; Righe:32; Parole:369)