Creating BAKONGO: A kingdom of happiness
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- 21 Mayo, 2010
It was already 8 hours ago in a bus from the capital city of Colombia when she arrived. Fortunately some friends of mine were waiting for her at the airport and thanks to their blackberry’s I could see her picture 5 minutes after she started this adventure. I don’t know if she imagines what was going to happen in the weeks to come but I can’t forget what I thought when I saw that picture,
Lucia came from Peru to join BAKONGO the first camp that gives young people the opportunity to take the risk to change the world (and have fun doing it). Every year, students from universities get together in different regions of Colombia, with a group of low-income children from our society to have a week full of emotions, friendship, magic, and learning.
Through BAKONGO, we are helping children to create changes in their communities and turning young people become change makers.
This is one of the projects that we make with the Colombia Network of Youth RECOJO, a network of young social entrepreneurs that I started five years ago and that became one of the reasons why I was chosen to represent Colombia in the first summit of One Young World. At One Young World I met Lucia, she was representing Peru and now she was here to help me with BAKONGO, to show to the world that the global problems that we talked about in London, need a global generation acting as one to solve them. We were ready to prove that the words we exchanged in the Excel Center could go to the streets, to fill the hearts of others and make their eyes shine.
Two days after she arrived, I saw Lucia with a big smile and a funny hat, the kids were almost there and Bakongo’s team were ready to receive them. My mission was the boring one, go to the road and wait for the bus Finally it arrived and I guided them to a beautiful farm in the coffee region of Colombia. I have never seen a group of kids so exited and there it was, a big door, of which behind it contains the contents of what will be a magic week,. Slowly the electric door open and music started. Everywhere was people in costumes simulating a medieval kingdom. Warriors, princes, kings, jokers and me, with a camera, trying to catch every moment to never forget the meaning of solidarity.
The next days we we witnessed how happiness came to our kingdom. We saw it when the kids went into the pool for the first time in their lives and we were “teachers” and “lifeguards” at the same time. We smelled it when we went to collect coffee with them and we heard it in the talent show when we sang and danced with them. We tasted in our “elegant dinner” when we sat on tables with candles and we taught them how to use a fork and knife in a proper way.
We felt happiness when we saw them sleeping after days of laughs and friendship. There was Einer, laying in a bed with blanquets for the first time, or Juan, by the side of his new friend Michael, resting with a smile after just a few weeks of his surgery after he tragically experienced sexual abuse.
We woke up the last day knowing that BAKONGO was going to end but the real adventure was just starting. More kids should have this experience and more young people should start acting. I saw Lucia, her smile was still there but now her eyes were shining. She came to me and said – ‘we should send a message to all our friends, from all over the world, we must share what we experienced here’ – Then I understood that a global leader of our generation is not going to be measured by the impact that he or she can have in his country but by the changes that he or she can inspire or bring to the whole world.
We turn on the camera for you and this is the result: