The Rose of Sharon School

Attorney and child advocate, Martha Villamizar, started a school in 1994 for children displaced by armed conflict between insurgent and paramilitary groups engaged in drug production and trafficking. Villamizar negotiated a gift of land from the government in the Barranquilla La Playa area where over 10,000 people had taken refuge from the drug wars. While the area provided a relatively safer environment than much of the country, unemployment of over 80% replaced armed conflict for economic poverty in the hierarchy of needs.

Children who are born into this type of poverty usually remain poor their entire lives if they don’t have some form of assistance. As a well-educated Colombian, Villamizar identified a need that she could meet – education. Leaving the legal profession and moving into La Playa, Villamizar opened La Rosa de Saron (The Rose of Sharon) school. With the assistance of International Needs’ partners in Canada and the United States, children receive a good quality, government-approved education, school uniforms, footwear, basic medical care, and a nutritious meal each day. They also receive encouragement and support from the teachers who lovingly prepare them for their future.