About the project
Founded in the early 1980’s, Ruhi Arbab Baháʼí School Foundation’s mission is to build capacity in children and youth to access scientific, technological, artistic and spiritual knowledge, based on the principles and teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, in order to develop in them the capacity to manage development initiatives in their community through their qualities and skills of service. This organization administers two schools, one located in Puerto Tejada and the other in Jamundí, Colombia.
The schools work with rural and semi-urban populations that in the last 30 years have seen their environment and socio-economic conditions deteriorate. Although children have access to public education, its quality is poor due to school overcrowding and inadequate teacher training. The main emphasis is on academic aspects without giving much importance to the spiritual and moral education of children.
How we help
Mona began to support this school in 2020 by providing funding to construct three new classrooms with the capacity for 25 children each. The purpose of the Foundation is to improve the educational quality of the two schools. At this time in each of the municipalities the Bahá’í Schools are recognized for their educational work. The Foundation wishes to continue providing an integral education to the student population, so that they may develop intellectually, materially and spiritually.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a major challenge for Colombia. A nationwide lockdown was issued on March 20, 2020.
The national government has tried, without much success, to meet the growing needs of the population; food aid has been offered to families, economic subsidies for unemployment, etc.; however, the situation is so overwhelming that they are still far from being able to say that there is an organized response to the problems that the health crisis has created. The lack of access by the most vulnerable population to basic services such as health, education, housing, food and public utilities including drinking water and connectivity, exposes them by a greater percentage to the effects of the virus; this is coupled with the lack of infrastructure and equipment in the health sector, which prevents the population from accessing decent treatment when infected by the virus.
Ruhi Arbab Foundation has been fundamentally affected in the economic aspect, as families have great difficulty paying for their children’s education and accessing equipment or connectivity for virtual learning. Despite these challenges, they have adapted the curriculum to online education, trained their teachers and providing families with scholarships.
Another adjustment that greatly strengthened their work were weekly meetings with parents; for strengthening the academic and disciplinary process of each student, while hearing suggestions from parents for continuous improvement of the process.
Claudia is the mother of 7-year-old María José, who entered the school two years ago. The year 2020 was a very special year for them, as María José began second grade in the primary school, but at the same time she had to face the health crisis, having to adapt to a new way of learning and relating to her school.
For Claudia, the weekly accompaniment of the school has been key to facing mandatory quarantine and on-line learning.
María José’s mother also emphasized the support her daughter received from her teacher, which was fundamental in aiding her to advance in her learning process: “The teacher, Sandra Patricia Rodríguez Zamorano, who gave me her unconditional support, taking into account my situation as a head-of-household mother in a greatly trying time, and with a daughter for whom the change to virtual learning was a great challenge. When I was almost ready to give up, she generously offered a hand, providing reinforcement, words of encouragement and giving me tools that allowed me to regain control of the situation.”
Successfully transitioned online and continued to provide quality education to 460 students
Served 1,380 through service projects, including distributing food and face masks to families of students in need
Began construction of 3 classrooms
2021 Project Goals
- Complete construction of 3 classrooms
- Construct two sets of bathrooms, a shower and hand washing stations, impacting 224 boys and 236 girls, $37,000
- Provide partial scholarships to all 460 students, $5,042