Why Camilo is helping Scouting shape Colombia’s heroes of the future
A BackStage Story by the Scout Donation Platform
Camilo Ayala knows what it’s like to live without hope, so he decided to do his part to try and help other young people caught up in gang violence in Colombia with the “Heroes of the Future” project; an initiative that takes Scouting into areas of the country where gangs continue to fuel violence and division.
Ayala has started a Scout Funding campaign to support more than 500 children who have joined “Heroes of the Future”. In this month’s BackStage Story, he tells us more about his life, why he set up the project and his plans for the future.
Camilo, please tell us a little bit more about yourself
I'm Camilo Ayala I'm 23 years old. I'm a film and theatre executive producer and sometimes get to act. I am a peace advocate, developing projects in my community (and) mixing it with my passion for visual arts.
How did "Heroes of the Future" get started?
Back in 2014, the Scout Association of Colombia opened six new groups in the municipality of Soacha, where problems like gangs and violence are (still) a daily struggle. It hasn't been easy. Today, only two are still operating. One of these groups started working with the Eduard Camilo Foundation, they provide food and we complement it with the Scout programme working with over 500 children.
What have Scouts done so far to help the community?
With the support of our National Office, we trained the Eduard Camilo Foundation adult volunteers to implement the Scout programme, involving not only our own Rover
Why did you decide to take part in this project?
I got an invitation from my National Chief Scout. He thought it would be something I would be interested in. When we got there, I saw myself in those kids who were displaced by conflict and violence in Colombia. Not long ago, this was my own reality too, and (as) a victim of conflict I immediately identified with them. At that moment I decided to join the project. I would not want any children to go through what I experienced. They deserve to live a peaceful childhood.
The intention behind the project is amazing, but there are simple things where we need support. For example, the last time I was there the stove was broken. I believe in these kids and in their potential, that's why I started a Scout Funding Campaign.
How has the community improved since the project started?
The number and presence of gangs have decreased since the Scout group started. Even though there are still some, we hope one day on having a community with zero gangs. We are providing these kids not only with food but also hope for a better future; healing the wounds from their past and their present.
Is it dangerous for Scouts and volunteers to work in that area of Colombia?
Our government played a vital role when the project started, we have (had) their full support ever since. Over time, our faces and uniforms have become part of the community, we are no longer strangers to people, so this has helped us to continue working.
What will you do when you get all the funds for your project?
We already have plans on how to use the money. For example, we are looking forward to getting uniforms for those kids without one, replacing the stove used to feed them - its old and broken, a new one will help reduce the monthly operational costs - finish training the adult volunteers and members of the community, and go camping with the kids. Some of them haven't even gone outside their own
What would you say to anyone interested in donating to your project?
I was a victim of the conflict in Colombia, and I know what it is like to feel like you do not have a future. When you are someone living on the streets or under harsh conditions you feel like there are no available opportunities to overcome that situation. I see this as an opportunity for everyone - Colombia, Soacha and that community - to create a positive impact. I would like to invite you to support us and help this amazing community through Scouting.
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