News Release

How the Church of Jesus Christ Is Helping Children and Mothers in Colombia

With a donation of more than US$1.5 million to UNICEF Colombia, 72,905 children and mothers will benefit in La Guajira, Chocó, Nariño and Guainía

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is giving US$1.5 million to UNICEF Colombia to improve health and child development in the country.

Distinguished individuals from both organizations were present during the announcement on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Bogotá. Among them were Elder Yan Carlos Vega, an Area Seventy; Welfare and Self-Reliance Manager Jorge Vega; and Elder and Sister Mayorga, dedicated humanitarian aid missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ. Representing UNICEF Colombia were Tanya Chapuisat and Santiago Quiñonez, Director of Management and Demand for International Cooperation.

The collaborative projects will focus on three critical areas:

  • Safe water and sanitation in schools: The Church and UNICEF will work together to improve access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in schools located in the municipalities of Istmina and Quibdó.
  • Malnutrition prevention: Efforts will be directed toward preventing malnutrition in children under five years of age and pregnant women from ethnic diversity and rural areas in Chocó, Vichada, Arauca and La Guajira.
  • Expanded vaccination: The initiative aims to expand vaccination coverage, especially for children with incomplete or nonexistent schedules in Nariño, Chocó and Guainía.

“We want to unite with various organizations around the world with the purpose of doing good and of serving our neighbors, of helping the most vulnerable population,” Elder Vega said. “We want to help the growing generation around the world — we believe that they will be the future of the world and we must safeguard them and help them so that they have all the basic needs in their lives.”

The urgency of these projects is underscored by the current challenges Colombia faces:

  • Rural schools: Approximately 60% of rural schools lack adequate water and sanitation infrastructure, hindering the well-being of students.
  • Food insecurity: Approximately 15.5 million people in Colombia live in food insecurity, emphasizing the need for comprehensive support.
  • Child malnutrition: Some 400,000 children under age five are malnourished in Chocó, Vichada and La Guajira.
  • Incomplete vaccination: UNICEF reports that 72,323 children in Colombia lack proper vaccination, posing risks despite the country’s free movement status. Recent measles outbreaks highlight the urgency of addressing this gap.

“The beneficiaries of these projects are children and adolescents in three programs,” Chapuisat said. “The first is water, hygiene and sanitation; the second is nutrition; and the third is in vaccination. We thank the Church of Jesus Christ’s support for these initiatives that will benefit the most vulnerable in the country.”

With a presence in more than 190 countries and territories, UNICEF has been in Colombia since 1950. In recent years UNICEF has worked to improve access to water and sanitation for communities, as well as access to health services that include disease prevention and the treatment and prevention of malnutrition.

About Humanitarian Services of the Church of Jesus Christ

The Church’s 2023 caring summary shows that the faith’s efforts to care for people in need included more than $1.3 billion in expenditures, 6.2 million hours volunteered and 4,119 humanitarian projects in 191 countries and territories.

The humanitarian efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relieve suffering, foster self-reliance and provide opportunities for service. The Church follows the call of Jesus Christ to feed the hungry and care for people in need.

This humanitarian outreach is made possible by the generous donations and volunteerism of Latter-day Saints and friends of the faith. The Church gives assistance without regard to race, religious affiliation or nationality. Aid is based on the core principles of personal responsibility, community support, self-reliance and sustainability.

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