Potrero Grande

The neighborhood of Potrero Grande is located in the Aguablanca District (sectors 13, 14, 15, 21) of the city of Santiago de Cali, in the department of Valley of Cauca, Colombia. The district is approximately 5,600 hectares in the southeast of Cali. The neighborhoods in sectors 13, 14, 15 and 21 have about 700,000 inhabitants and a murder rate that has reached 140 for every hundred thousand inhabitants. Homicide rates for the city are 77 per hundred thousand with the national rate at 44 per hundred thousand.

On the whole, Aguablanca District residents can be classified into three categories; very low, low, and medium–low income levels. The unemployment rate typically ranges between 13 and 23% .

The Afro-descendant population in Cali is 27% which 62% are in sectors 6, 7, 13, 14, 15, and 21, three of which are part of the Aguablanca District (14, 15, and 21). Potrero Grande shares sector 21 with the neighborhood of La Pradera.

The population of Cali is approximately 2,060,363 residents with 18.5% living in sectors 14, 15, and 21. Potrero Grande has 91,927 residents which is approximately 4.1% of Cali’s population.

Education:

Cesar Cabezas of Cadhubev

Cesar Cabezas of Cadhubev

In Potrero Grande there are 1,861 youth between the age of 18-23 who are enrolled in higher education and 6,713 who have not continued in the same path. A study conducted by the organization of Cadhubev which operates within the University de Valle in Cali under the direction of Cesar Cabezas indicated that many of the Afro-Colombian students in the Colombian education system have serious academic problems. These deficiencies are in the disciplines of mathematics, science and writing and often compounded with socio-cultural difficulties. Many of these students argue that, in part, it is the fault of the institutions where they completed their high school studies and others point to the universities lack of support by not offering courses which could assist those students who enter with low academic preparedness.

When these students are pre-tested in literacy it is evident that many end their high school education studies without a clear understanding of how to write an essay lacking the fundamentals in citations and punctuation that are necessary to pursue higher educational studies.

In addition, there is the cultural denial of a relevant Afro-Colombian component to Colombian education which can be significant as a tool for learning and teaching and can bring perspective to the child’s pursuit of higher goals. Therefore, as a result of these cultural issues not being address in the Afro-Colombian communities and schools it is reflected in the academic work produced by the Afro-Colombian student,. The student volunteers of Cadhubev partnered with the BHRDP to begin work in the Afro-Colombian communities offering tutoring and mentoring programs and socio-cultural workshops to strengthen the academic performance with the Afro-Colombian community of Potrero Grande in an effort of overcoming these barriers to the pursuit of higher academic studies.

Violence:

Community Leaders Working for Change

Community Leaders Working for Change

The political system in Latin America is designed with hidden impediments built within that exacerbate condition of poverty in African-American communities and sustains their economic failure. These systems are institutionalized and are passed onto the next generation. Because of discrimination, unemployment, underemployment, and lack of promotion, African people are paid less, but in terms of buying power, are required to pay more for consumer goods, taxes, rents, and insurance. In addition, there are historical, sociological, and psychological forces that contribute to these impoverished Afro-American communities. African people are more probable to be in geographical areas where inflation is higher and they are likely to be land less, capital less, and asset less while their labor is robbed of its vitality by the forces of racism, discrimination, and limited educational opportunities.

The leading cause of death in Cali is homicide at 37% followed by cardiovascular diseases, and pneumonia. There are 132 health institutions in the city with 14 in community 8, 15 in community 6, and in communities 21 there are only 2.

Aguablanca has a significant number of gangs. The gang is a product of de-socialization, low social regulation of social institutions, and the weak influence of the family, school, and the community. Stranded, these young people encounter violence as a form of social relationship that helps them define their identity and their status, and which becomes the preferred means of resolving social conflict. These young people begin early on to engage in live-for-the moment behavior, dropping out of school to engage in street life, and early sexuality. They value immediate gratification, living from day to day and not planning ahead.
When homicides in the neighborhood soared to an all time high in 2012, some community members took matters to resolve the problem into their own hands. They decided to seek support to bring a soccer tournament into the community. They didn’t have to study classical theories on violence or its underlying structural and cultural causes, it is as obvious as the nose on your face that children need something to do with their time and either you will find it for them or they will find it for themselves.

For months they went from one business establishment to another asking for support in any form until someone decided that he would get involved and donate prizes to the winning team if the initiative was successful. Others donated waters and tee shirts. The soccer tournament was launched and completed in four months. During those four months and for another month thereafter there were no homicides. That was in 2013 and 8 months later homicides have risen to 40. No one has since offered to contribute to holding another soccer initiative.

Aguablanca:

The Recycling of Poverty

The Recycling of Poverty

Aguablanca has a significant number of gangs. The gang is a product of de-socialization, low social regulation of social institutions, and the weak influence of the family, school, and the community. Stranded, these young people encounter violence as a form of social relationship that helps them define their identity and their status, and which becomes the preferred means of resolving social conflict. These young people begin early on to engage in live-for-the moment behavior, dropping out of school to engage in street life, and early sexuality. They value immediate gratification, living from day to day and not planning ahead.

When homicides in the neighborhood soared to an all time high in 2012, some community members took matters to resolve the problem into their own hands. They decided to seek support to bring a soccer tournament into the community. They didn’t have to study classical theories on violence or its underlying structural and cultural causes, it is as obvious as the nose on your face that children need something to do with their time and either you will find it for them or they will find it for themselves.

For months they went from one business establishment to another asking for support in any form until someone decided that he would get involved and donate prizes to the winning team if the initiative was successful. Others donated waters and tee shirts. The soccer tournament was launched and completed in four months. During those four months and for another month thereafter there were no homicides. That was in 2013 and 8 months later homicides have risen to 40. No one has since offered to contribute to holding another soccer initiative.

The BHR in Potrero Grande

Coordinator of BHREP in Cali

Coordinator of BHREP in Cali

The BHR entered this community in April of this year and along with volunteers from the University De Valle have instituted a tutoring program that offer teenagers instruction in mathematics, science, and writing skills. For three hours each Monday through Friday the youth are tutored by college professors and students who are working on their advance degrees. It is our mission to provide the academic and emotional support to the youth living in Potrero Grande who have the desire to enter a university program after graduating high school, and, although meeting the financial obligations will be difficult, we are providing them the academic support to insure that these aspiring students are emotionally and academically prepared .

In addition, the BHR has initiated a program of English instruction through the game of chess. 30 children from the ages of 10 through 17 meet every Saturday for 3 hours and learn English phrases while learning how to play the game of chess. There is a chess tournament held once a month with prizes for the participants and the grand tournament of play is scheduled in October.

What We Do
The BHRs South American Language Skills Acquisition project (BHRSALSA) is the Black Heritage Rider’s Latin American initiative. We implement community-based ESL instruction which along with educational enrichment resources, give Afro-American children living in South American impoverished communities a better opportunity to improve their lives. Our focus is on motivating and helping underserved Afro-American children advance and succeed academically. Providing young children with English language skills create educational opportunities that can overcome the overwhelming challenges of obtaining employment and work experience.
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