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COLOMBIA | Monday, 10 November 2008 | Views [3585]

A typical Colombian lunch with Tania and her family

A typical Colombian lunch with Tania and her family

I have lived with Tania Pardo and her family for the past week, and I honestly now feel like one of the family. They strive to make the world a positive place to be in, and continue to give out a fresh, positive energy. Their kindness will forever remain in my heart. 
When Tania and I went to Paramo de Berlin we had a nice long conversation, in which she filled me in on many details about crime that went on, and still goes on in Colombia. She spoke about such things as human and drug trafficking. I also asked her about kidnappings here, and she spoke to me about trata de blancas. Said that most of the women who are kidnapped here, are taken by foreigners to other countries and are forced to work as prostitutes. As many Colombian women want to leave the country, they trust the person who helps them to leave and is promising them a better life with lots of money. But when they arrive in places like the USA, Japan, Panama or Europe, their passports are stolen from them, and they are bribed when they try to get it back. They have to work as prostitutes for years in order to have their passports returned, and if they don´t, they are killed.     
She also reminded me of something that many locals from Ecuador and Colombia have spoken of ..."Paseo Millonario - the Millionaire's Walk/ Tour." You get into what looks like a normal taxi, and then the driver takes you a short way before stopping. His accomplices then get into the cab and hold knives or guns to you. They then take you around on a tour of the city's cash machines, emptying your account, until you finally have nothing left. They then drop you off in a remote place and sometimes leave you some money to take a cab back home. I guess I was really lucky not to have my bank card on me when I was robbed in the taxi in Guayaquil! Plus they left me some money for a cab... so I was very fortunate!
Tania and her family love to help people. She is an environmental engineer, her mother is a primary school teacher, her cousin is a social worker, and her sister is a nutritionist for poor children. 
Tanis´s mother (Nubia) took me to her work at a public school the other day. I first sat in on a few of her colleauge´s classes, who is an art teacher. The kids were between 14 and 16 yrs of age, and I was surprised to see how relaxed the class environment was. I even started breakdancing with one of the kids in the first class to the music from someone´s mobile phone! They were all really interested to hear about my travel experiences, and the cultural differences in Australia and other many countries. I later went to Nubia´s class, where there were a whole bunch of noisy five year olds. She sang with them while playing guitar and had them copy some writing from the white board. I went home after a while because one of the kids, we weren´t quite sure who, had had a smelly accident in their pants.
Tania, being an environmental engineer, works close to Bucaramanga in places as such as san vicente y carmen del chucuri, san Gil, Guepsa, Barranca, Mogotes, and Velez, conserving vegetation. Identifying areas with water sources is an important step in vegetation analysis for Tania and her team, as they want the plantations to benefit nature.
Tania spoke with me about a project that her and her cousin are wanting to start up. Tania works as an Environmental engineer and her cousin is a social worker who runs a project to help sexually abused children. They are working to bring awareness to people about the importance of environmental conservation around the world, but especially in places like South America, where rubbish is carelessly littered throughout the streets. They want to focus mainly on youth because they believe that children will adapt faster to new knowledge, change, and a better way of life.  
To help Tania and her cousin with their new environmental project, email [email protected]

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