Sihanoukville in Medellín

Well, my vacations in Medellín, Colombia, has not been properly tropical at the best style of what it could be in Cambodia. First, because Medellín is on an Andean valley, more than 1,500 meters above the sea level (4,921 feet). Second, La Niña took umbrage with Colombia (it is predicted that there will be rain all the year). Third, Medellín is really huge (a population of 3 million persons with cars everywhere) and has not yet a real organized urban transport with the exception of Metro de Medellín that, for me, still one of the most beautiful and clean of the world (however, the Metro of Hong Kong is amazing.) The city is building a new system of urban transport, Metroplus, that is expected to make the most modern and organized urban transport in a South American city… we hope.

But I miss very much the moto-dops of Cambodia (moto-taxis) and the tuk-tuks (here in Colombia is known as mini-chivas.) Moto-taxis are known only in the Atlantic coast, in cities like Barranquilla and there is a war on them (they want to end such means of transport.) It seems that  there is not the idea in the Colombian cities’ administrations that moto-taxis are too practical and also a jobs’ generator. Now I feel really bored to take a bus just to go to the next barrio. I am already used to the Cambodian moto-taxis of Sihanoukville or Phnom Penh.

However, I have enjoyed very much my vacations in my city. I have gone through barrios, from north to south. The ‘Sos Paisa‘ Network (‘Paisa’ is how they call the Colombians of the departments of Antioquia and the Coffee Axes), invited me to give some communication workshops to young people in poor barrios. The program is leaded by the Major of Medellín to young people who are at risk of urban violence or those who have been involved in gangs. It is known as Fuerza Joven (Youth Force), a great and courage project to answer to urban violence. I got impressed with some leaders of the program like a lady teacher, Mrs Miriam Elena Sierra García, who goes from barrio to barrio, coordinating several groups of young people.

I thanks Alonso Salazar, Major of Medellín, for the letter he gave me (see photo in Spanish). I think that experiences of education and development in countries like Colombia and Cambodia must be known and get in relation. Medellín has done a lot to overcome its violence and problems. It has been recognized also as a model of development and integration. My dream is to make an educational interchange among Cambodian and Colombian youth. It would be great to send some young people from the school of journalism of Don Bosco Sihanoukville to know experiences of participation and education in a city like Medellín, to learn Spanish and to train in communication. At the same time, to bring some Medellín young people, especially from the poor quarters and the displaced families, to follow some courses of communication with Don Bosco Sihanoukville. We need, of course, the support. Both countries are opposite in the globe…

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