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02 Oct 2014

Supporting youth training in a vulnerable Colombian community

Smurfit Kappa contributes to the training of youngsters in Yumbo, Colombia, with the aim of ending a cycle of poverty in this region. 

Yumbo is an industrial city in Colombia, and it is also where a Smurfit Kappa plant is located. Approximately 25% of Yumbo´s population is between 10 and 24 years old. Unfortunately many youngsters drop-out of school and become exposed to drugs, violence and undesirable ways of making money. For those who do stay in school, the quality of the education is such that many do not achieve the results they need to access higher education. The end result is a cycle of poverty and as Beatriz Mejia Director of the Smurfit Kappa Foundation in Colombia also adds, “Yumbo has a homicide rate of 62 people per 100,000 “

The Smurfit Kappa Foundation in Colombia was set-up to support the communities where the Company operates and continually invests in education programs involving disadvantaged children. In 2012, Smurfit Kappa signed an agreement with the Don Bosco Training Centre in Yumbo to provide vocational training for young people and prepare them to secure decent and stable jobs in their immediate future.

“The agreement between Smurfit Kappa and Don Bosco provides a great life opportunity for Yumbo´s young citizens who can now find a job, join the community, become better human beings and be productive to society”. 

Father Germán Londoño,
Director of Don Bosco

The agreement with Smurfit Kappa consisted of two programs in which there was an exchange of industrial surplus (pine and eucalyptus bark) for training opportunities as industrial mechanics and welders.40 youngsters from the local community participated and were accompanied throughout the entire process by their parents, who supervised their involvement. In July 2014 a group of 34 students received their degrees and 15 of them are now working in companies that are located in the region. Herninson Palomino, a beneficiary of the agreement says, "for me, hope was born, I set myself new goals and a purpose to be a good citizen". For Beatriz Mejia, Executive "the agreement is a great opportunity for young people who have no access to education, it is an alternative to be trained as technicians and at the same time acquire life values that will help reduce violence and drug rates in the territory”. Taking this group of people out of the poverty cycle undoubtedly contributes to the improvement of the Yumbo community and opens the future for a vulnerable population.