Posted by: thebluemusicblog | November 17, 2014




The altitude of 2600 meters is a decisive element in the experience of walking out of the big Air France Airbus in Bogota, Colombia. Estes Park at around 2400 m already gave us a preparation for it. 90 participants from 35 countries around the world have decided to come to the training week of World Urban Network in the high mountains of Colombia.IMG_5410


I find it fabulous to celebrate a whole week on the theme “YOUTH AS COMMUNITY CHANGE AGENTS IN THE XXI CENTURY”.

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This photo from Estes Park is of three good friends from the Ukraine. Thinking of Youth Empowerment I think of the young people of Ukraine trying to stop wars. These are days to think and pray for our YMCA friends in Ukraine, we have lost a few young leaders to the war already. YMCA is so much about stopping wars. Empowering Young People means giving young people the strength and values to fight to stop wars.



A conference like this gives friends an opportunity to be friends and enjoy the unique fellowship of YMCA people from all corners of the world. Here the delegation from Sao Paulo has arrived and being welcomed by Bill Stewart, the CEO of WUN. Marisia Donatelli is the famous CEO of Sao Paulo, but Mauricio Diaz Vandorsee in the background is the National General Secretary of Brazil YMCA and Romulo there is in my team in World YMCA, but in fact all five of them come from Sao Paulo, even if Mauricio has a distant past from Valparaiso, Chile. He was only a small boy when he was born there. 🙂



Romulo and I had a walking meeting and a working lunch today, and when I saw these garbage bags of black plastic, I could not pass them without making a snap shot. It reminded me so much of Geneva, where they also dump garbage on the sidewalks. The difference here was that it was all rather green grass from a nearby lawn. Still a bit homesick for Geneva!




Living in Geneva, where there is almost no cultural influence from the USA, and where signs on the trains are either French, German or Italian only, here we have a Space Man from Nasa lined up at the entrance to say welcome from Houston, and…..



…here you can also find one of the Blues Brothers in appropriate closeness to the bar. His brother on the other side!




The location close to Equator and in high altitude gives you flowers with strong, deep colors and mesmerizing smell. You really feel inspired by summer in late November and enjoy being in a city boasting that all four seasons happen in one day, and that the year has no seasons, only a wet period, then a dry one, then a wet period, and so on in all eternity. Remember an umbrella always, said the doorman at the hotel.



I have not seen much of Bogota yet, but the little I have seen walking through the neighborhood, has given me a great impression of trees and green lungs, like the fabulous sports field conveniently close to the hotel – full of kids and retired walkers using the training equipment for free.



Having grown into a kind of late autumn early winter mood in Geneva, I decided not to bring my jogging shoes. But seeing these green fields made me just turn around to find the nearest sports shop and purchasing a pair of joggers. There is always a lunch you can skip on your way to a better life line.




Colombia has one of the youngest populations in Latin America, and you can see it and feel it in Bogota!


Walking alone though the neighborhood I met two fully armed soldiers, and it reminded me of more unstable times with FARC Guerrilla (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). The Farc is the oldest and largest group amongColumbia’s left-wing rebels and is one of the world’s richest guerrilla armies. The group’s roots can be traced back to the Liberal Guerrilla bands of La Violence – the civil war between the Liberal and Conservative parties that raged from  1948 until 1958. Farc became disillusioned with the leadership of the Liberal Party and turned to communism. One of the guerrilla bands was led by Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda (his real name is Pedro Antonio Marin), who in 1966 baptized his group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Experts estimate that FARC takes in between $500 million and $600 million annually from the illegal drug trade. (United Nations Regional Information Centre.)


The YMCA Bogota works in the more challenging areas of Bogota, where young people are struggling with what we refer to as the consequences of “The Untold Story About Injustice Towards Young People”. I am very much looking forward to visit some of these areas of the city and see the YMCA’s programmes to empower young people. Wednesday I am visiting a programme dealing with young offenders.




A residential area in “my” neighborhood.



The Hotel Fontana is our home away from home while we are working together in Bogota.IMG_5406


Here Bill and Jennifer working hard to finalize the paperwork before the registration process starts.



Local resource people from YMCA Bogota have formed the welcome delegation and are also preparing themselves for the conference to start. Very friendly people!



The courtyard of the hotel invites for lots of side meetings and informal contacts.IMG_5409And for a Christmas person as I am, this is fabulous. From Genevoise Christmas traditions in Silver and Blue, it is fantastic to remember that (in my opinion :-)) Christmas is first of all Red and Gold!

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