The Council of Evangelical Churches of Colombia (CEDECOL) is a partner of Global Ministries which, among many other things, offers relief and hope to the victims of Colombia's situation of violence and upheaval. The CEDECOL Women's Network is an interdenominational network of women working throughout Colombia as advocates for those affected by the violence. They empower women, especially those with a strong Christian identity, to accept the challenge of working to secure dignity for all. The CEDECOL Women’s Network especially works with women and their families who have been displaced because of the civil war in Colombia and with women's groups in poor communities.
The CEDECOL Women’s Network offers programs and initiatives to women who face social and economic hardship, as well as those living in the midst of domestic abuse and conflict. The Women’s Network provides women throughout the country with elements that allow them to provide for themselves and their families, as well as to promote and provide opportunities for women in sustainable efforts of income-generation The Women’s Network also actively advocates for peace, justice, and equality, three important values often absent in Colombian society.
During the time period September 2011 through September 2012 the CEDECOL Women’s Network provided both psychosocial and pastoral care for women who were victims of armed conflict. They also provided support for socio-economic initiatives by women who were victims of the conflict in Colombia and for income-generation projects. Agreements were drawn up between the CEDECOL Women’s Network and those receiving the seed-money for these initiatives, with the fundamental criterion being that the women receiving these funds be victims of armed conflict. This model helps women who are victims with loans for projects that generate income, facilitating support and promoting the improvement of the quality of life for themselves and their families. The challenge is to support a larger number of women and their families.
In the future, the CEDECOL Network plans to provide start-up loans in each region where they work, so that these loans become rotating. That way each region will have its own resources to develop their work with women. The CEDECOL Women’s Network plans to invite coordinators in each region who are trained in the business area to pass on their business knowledge and offer advice to women who are being supported with resources for their income-generating projects. Thus CEDECOL will provide more attention and support to these women by guiding and empowering them in the process of creating their own small businesses.
Some of the projects that have been undertaken during this period include: confection of crafts such as handbags, backpacks, hammocks, clothes; retailing of merchandise such as tableware, plates, curtains, plastic goods, bedspreads, bags, and clothing; making and selling of food products, such as meat, baked goods and produce.
CEDECOL shares this story from one of the women:
Nelly’s late husband, Gustavo, was killed nine years ago by armed groups. He was a pastor for the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in the province of Huila. She currently lives in another town in Huila Province. The CEDECOL Women’s Network has supported her and she has set up a bakery project. The bakery has customers who buy their products and the idea is to expand its business further. It has been a blessing for Nelly and her family because she has been able to generate a living for her family. We pray to God that she and many other women can continue moving forward, and that we as Women’s Network and donors like Global Ministries continue to be the instrument that God uses to improve the quality of life for many women who have been victims of the armed conflict that unfortunately exists in our country.
Global Ministries continues to welcome gifts for the work of the CEDECOL Women’s Network.