Katalina Bernal via Crowdrise
January 19, 2011
The street children in Colombia are called ‘the disposable ones’ and they live and sometimes die on the streets. These children are unloved, unwanted, and endure abuse on many levels. Colombians are a kind and generous people but crime related to cocaine trafficking has made cities such as Medellin among the most violent in the world. Surviving on the streets is a harsh business. Children as young as six fall into prostitution and many escape the torments of their existence by sniffing glue.
It doesn't have to be that way.
Father Gabriel Mejia, a Catholic priest, has worked quietly to provide street children relief from their struggle for survival and support to create a better life for themselves.
Starting in Medellin in the mid-1980’s, Father Gabriel opened the first Center de Hogares Claret: a place where children could come for a good meal and a safe place to sleep. In the late 1980’s, he traveled to the United States where he learned Transcendental Meditation. He knew immediately that he had found the answer to the overwhelming stress the children suffered from living on the streets. As the power of the drug cartels waned, the number of Father Gabriel’s orphan shelters increased. Now, in 2010, there are 47 shelters under Father Gabriel’s direction, which are spread across all of Colombia. His center of operations in Medellin is the former home of Pablo Escobar, the now deceased drug lord.
Father Mejia's work has been revealed in a deeply moving documentary produced by the David Lynch Foundation that shows that over time an extraordinary transformation in the lives of the children takes place. They are freed from the torments they endured living on the streets, recover from their drug addictions and begin to gain an education.
Fundraising efforts will go toward David Lynch Foundation programs in Latin America, including Father Mejia's Foundation.