The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children in Colombia took place at the Jose Celestino Mutis Auditorium, at University of the Rosary, in historic downtown Bogota. Among the 45 attendants were 19 children from the Growing Together NGO, and the Voices for Hope chorale, from World Vision. The welcoming words were given by Fabian Salazar (coordinator of CETRE at University of the Rosary). Attending the event were representatives of the Mennonite Church, the Anglican Communion Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church of Colombia, Tibetan Buddhism, and the Catholic Church, who presented reflections aimed at the children and youth attending the event. This was also an opportunity to explain regarding GNRC, its experience in Colombia and the objective of the Day.
Next, World Vision’s Voices for Hope chorale delighted us with a concert of music with a social message, focused on the children and youth in Colombia that have been affected by the internal armed conflict. The members of the chorale are beneficiaries of the program sponsored by World Vision.
An enjoyable moment for exchange and recreation was followed by an Inter-institutional Panel on the “Situation of Children at Risk, a National Overview,” composed of Isdalia Ortega (World Vision), Patrick Klay (NGO Growing Together), Father Edgar Aristizabal (Episcopal Conference – Catholic Church), Sixta Tulia Niño (Early Childhood Pastoral Services, Catholic Church), and a youth leader (Growing Together). The panelists showed a picture of the current situation children are experiencing and their different assistance programs.
Prayers for children were offered by Blenda Castillo, of Growing Together. She emphasized the gift of a smile. “Give me Lord the gift of a smile to choose everyone and to be happy…” Ana Ruth Caicedo, youth assistant coordinator of GNRC-Colombia, shared with us the importance of prayer in her life, and presented the following prayer: “Beloved God, and Lord of life, you gave us grace and the opportunity to communicate life…” Next, Isdalia Ortega accompanied us, representing the Mennonite Church, who prayed in Christian prayer: “Dear God, Thou who are Father and Mother, and who cares for us your sons and daughters, we thank you for accompanying us in this place. We ask your forgiveness for all children, adolescents and youth who suffer abuse, abandon, violence and poverty. Forgiveness for not taking care of the environment for them and the generations to come…” Pastor Ricardo Angarita, representative of the Methodist Church of Colombia reflected on the church’s social commitment to the children who need a look, and acknowledgment to God and Creator of life: “Our good God, who loves us with the love of father and mother, on this special day, we remember your words: ‘Your kingdom is especially for the children. Do not allow us to forget all the children that suffer in the world.”
After this atmosphere of beautiful prayers for children, and representing the Tibetan Buddhist community, Laura Perez read a prayer/reflection written by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rimpoche, spiritual director of FPMT, on SEVEN FUNDAMENTAL METHODS FOR HAPPINESS AND SUCCESS. “May the dear, marvelous and precious children, full of potential, be able to eliminate both their problems and the problems of the world, and of all beings. May they achieve happiness both in this life as in all their future lives, and achieve ultimate happiness, the cessation of all suffering and of its causes –the cessation of erroneous actions and concepts- which create negative karma that obscures them, may they eliminate all of their perturbing attitudes…” To finish the interfaith prayer, the coordinator of GNRC-Colombia, Olga Lucia Sierra Santos closed with the prayer and action for children in Colombia.
The event lasted the entire day. In the afternoon, after moments for recreational activities and integration between the attendants, there was a presentation on the situation of children in Colombia, by Isdalia Ortega.