Partnership in the Colombia Mission: The Fraternidade – International Humanitarian Missions FIHM and the Bethany agency come together for more activities

The work that the Fraternidade International FIHM and Bethany develop in ‘education in times of emergency and humanitarian crises,’ has the focus on the internal strengthening and resilience of children, in order to prepare them to deal with the situations they live in.

After the initial phase in Cúcuta (August 2018 to January 2019), the Colombia Mission of the Fraternidade FIHM began a new cycle at the beginning of June of this year in Bogotá and the region.

In the first cycle of the mission (which took place in Cúcuta), the location of action was on the border, and support was given to the refugees when they arrived in Colombia and as they passed through. The situation in the second cycle of the mission, in Bogotá, being the capital, is from a perspective of permanence and reconstruction of life there, mainly because of the demand made by Ecuador and Peru for a visa, which most Venezuelans do not have, which requires a more focused work for these circumstances on the part of humanitarian agencies, such as the FIHM .

The joint work between the Fraternidade – International Humanitarian Missions (FIHM) and the Bethany agency began informally during the contingency plan at the end of August. This contingency plan was organized by GIFMM Bogotá and the region. The GIFMM is the Interagency Mixed Migration Flows Group, in which the FIHM has participated since then, along with several other agencies and organizations, such as: IOM, UNHCR, the Red Cross, Bethany, NRC, Acción Contra el Hambre, Save the Children, FUPAD, IMMAP, among others.

This plan was triggered due to the movement generated throughout Colombia, one week before the entry into force of the Ecuadorian measure (entry visa requirement for Venezuelans)—period in which there was a large movement of migrants crossing Colombia to the border with Ecuador, in order to enter the country before the visa requirement came into force.

Bethany has signed agreements with the Bogotá government secretariat with two places for gathering for migrants: in the Social SuperCADE of the El Salitre Bus Terminal and in the Government Secretariat, where it offers psychosocial care and family reintegration—consisting of telephone minutes and Internet access for communication with the family.

In September 2019, a cooperation agreement was signed between the FIHM and Bethany Fraternities, in order to strengthen this link and to build more activities together.

At the point of the SuperCADE, the government’s meeting place with various agencies that give attention to documentation, legal attention, transportation and lodging, there is also a place  to help children, where the Fraternidade FIHM is present twice a week, doing playful-recreational and art-educational activities and sporadic activities in other places.

Since October they have participated, together with other agencies, in the newly created Table of Protection of the GIFMM of Bogotá and the region, which aims to guarantee the human rights of refugees.

The people who respond in the field of protection in Bogotá are being located on a map to generate clarity of the needs and enable more effective joint action in this field.

To date, FIHM missionaries have experienced two training sessions:

  • First aid, with the Colombian Red Cross, in Bethany’s office
  • Protection mainly to children and family ministered by Bethany

The great objective with this partnership is to be able to “offer a greater possibility of welcome and a more favorable humanitarian response, with more opportunities for them to build an honorable life in Colombia,” says Priscila Vasques, FIHM missionary and collaborator in this article.