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Supporting our Colombian Community During the Holidays
Learn about StratusGrid's initiatives to support the Colombian community during the holidays. A testament to our commitment to social responsibility.
StratusGrid had an amazing 2021 in many ways. We grew our revenues and number of clients substantially, our team size tripled, our skills and abilities have vastly expanded, and more. We have also grown our geographic footprint, expanding into Bogotá, Colombia and Dublin, Ireland in addition to already being distributed throughout the United States and in Madrid, Spain. As a result of this success, we felt compelled toward the end of this past year to do our part and give back to support one of the communities in which we now have a vested interest - Bogotá, Colombia.
Bogotá is a beautiful place with a vibrant tourism industry. It is also the main economic and industrial center of Colombia. As is the case with other large, dense cities in South America, it also has centers of extreme poverty. According to UNICEF, 34% of children and teenagers in Colombia are impoverished. Poverty rates in Colombia are decreasing due to the country’s economic growth, but there is still work to be done. At the end of 2021, StratusGrid committed to doing our small part to help those we could to make their Christmas season a little brighter.
We started on December 15th with an internal fundraiser to raise money for this effort. The initial goal was to raise $2,500 USD (10 million Colombian pesos - COP) in order to impact 500 people. By December 20th, we had raised almost $3,000 USD! It really brings things into perspective when this amount of money can impact so many people in other countries.
After wrapping more than 600 gifts (purchased from the fundraiser), our teammates in Colombia loaded up their car with the first 200 gifts. They went to the National Park in Bogotá to deliver tamales and gifts to the indigenous community. Since last year, there are thousands of indigenous groups camping in the park. We worked with a community leader to coordinate the delivery.
We distributed the toys by asking the children to form lines based on their gender and age, and it was wonderful to see how excited each child was to receive a gift.
After delivering the toys, the team delivered 300 tamales to the community with help from the indigenous community lead, her husband, our CTO Ivan Casco, and People Manager, Christian Pulido. The food and juice were delivered to children, the elderly, and to the rest of the members of the community. Many live in tents and they prepare food using old pots over a wood fire. It was a fun experience getting to interact with the community, but at the same time was both humbling and heartbreaking to see children (or anyone) living in these conditions.
We decided to continue to try to make an impact and partnered with a foundation that works with vulnerable populations in Bogotá. We planned to go to one of the poorest and most dangerous district neighborhoods in Bogotá called “Ciudad Bolivar.” We arrived at 6:00 p.m. to help with and participate in a traditional “novena”, an activity in which people pray, sing, and eat food and desserts.
The foundation we partnered with brought some children’s performers to lead the novena and play some games with the kids. After we finished the games, singing, and praying, we started to deliver tamales and juices for the kids. Once the kids were fully served, we delivered the rest of the food to the adults in the community as well.
After the dinner, a volunteer, dressed as Santa Claus, climbed to the roof of a house and threw candy and gifts (safely) down to the kids. In the meantime, our team (along with other volunteers) prepared packages with a toy, a school kit (notebook, pencil, eraser, and sharpeners), and gummy bears. Each child was given a package in addition to a photo with Santa.
It was great to work with volunteers in the neighborhood, and we were very impressed by the willingness of this community to collaborate, participate, and give what they could to help our teams deliver toys and tamales, bring trays, cookware, and more.
For the final day, we decided to work with the same foundation again. This time, we celebrated Christmas with a neighborhood in which many inhabitants work dangerous jobs that make the area a high-risk place for children to grow up in.
We had 250 Christmas gifts and 350 tamale-juice combos leftover from the previous days and our goal was to deliver the rest of these to the community. The celebration started with some of the same children’s performers from before leading some games and recreational activities for the kids, as well as offering two bicycles in a giveaway. The foundation also brought some musicians and drummers to set the tone for the event which led to the day feeling very happy and upbeat.
The foundation team then went with our volunteers to deliver the tamales and juice to the children of the neighborhood. We had more kids than expected, but luckily we had enough food for all of them! For the adults in the community, the foundation brought some sandwiches and hot chocolate.
Finally, the foundation teamed up with StratusGrid to coordinate the final activity where the foundation gave some clothing to the children, and we delivered the gifts we had purchased for them.
While we were grateful for this opportunity to help, it was difficult to see many of the harsh realities that each of these neighborhoods is faced with every day.
One particular story that stuck out to us was on the last day when we met a social worker who shared with us that she earns an average of 15.000 COP (the equivalent of $3-4 USD) per day. She confessed the sandwich and tamales we provided them at 2:00 that afternoon was the first meal of the day for her and her two young children. We will never forget that moment.
We share these experiences with you so that you know how vulnerable this population is and how fortunate we feel to have been able to make a direct impact in their lives. We hope this project also inspires you to consider giving back in whatever way you can when you have the opportunity.
Here’s to 2022 - a new year with new opportunities for growth and for helping those in need.