Things That Matter

10-Year-Old Activist Francisco Javier Vera Is Calling On The Colombian Government To Act Against Climate Change

Greta Thunberg has been gaining international fame as the face of youth climate activism, making deeply moving speeches in front of both massive crowds and the world’s most powerful leaders. Thunberg is not the only jovencit@ fighting for environmental justice—children and teenagers all across the globe are (and have been) purporting the same message for years. Thunberg’s rising fame has catapulted this message to the mainstream media, garnering the attention it so desperately deserves. Another awesome kid at the forefront of this movement? Colombia’s Francisco Javier Vera, a 10-year-old activist calling on the Colombian government to enact more effective climate legislation in the immediate future.

On December 20, Vera led a dozen other niños in a march of protest against government inaction on the issue of climate change. Vera is not only protesting and raising awareness through a wide range of platforms—he recently addressed the Colombian Senate with an impassioned speech calling for conscious environmental action at the government level.

He addressed the officials in Spanish, but the English translation reads:

“Today, I came to represent my group Guardianes Por La Vida to ask everyone to be conscious of the damage we’ve caused the environment, you and me, the damage we’ve caused. I ask you, as senators of the republic . . . legislate for our lives. For example, go against fracking campaigns, animal testing, single-use plastic, and the mistreatment of animals. We are, in my opinion, unfairly tasked as children to fight for our planet.”

Vera also urged the Colombian Senate to vote against a major tax reform bill, claiming that it disrespects and would ultimately harm the rural populations of Colombia. These populations are often the most susceptible to the effects of natural disasters, as well as the most likely to suffer without resources in the aftermath of a severe storm.

Over the past few years, the Colombian government has worked to improve climate disaster prevention by relocating high-risk neighborhoods, constructing retaining walls in areas vulnerable to landslides and floods, and reducing annual deforestation. Indeed, as climate change continues to evolve, populations on the deforested slopes of the Andes Mountains—as well as those placed along riverbeds—are most at risk for severe floods and avalanches. Cities in the Andean country have a cumulative population of about 49 million people, all of whom are in constant danger of potentially devastating climate events.

Luis Gilberto Murillo, a former mining engineer who served as Colombia’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development from 2016 to 2018, told Reuters in 2017 that “Colombia is very vulnerable to phenomena of extreme climate variability and climate change.” He added that around 500 municipalities are constantly on medium or alert for flood and landslide risks.

“We have to move toward a culture of prevention and response to early warnings. Close to 12 million people are in high-risk conditions,” said Murillo.

Credit: Columbia University / phys.org

In 2017, Colombia unveiled the country’s National Climate Change Policy, which aimed to expand existing programs that addressed the risks of climate change, from disaster management plans to financial protection plans to strategies for emissions reduction. Twenty-three separate regions proposed their own plans for climate change, and all state capitals included climate change on their respective development plans. The country committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2030, acknowledging that another 10% cut could be achieved with international support.

These efforts may not prove to be enough. Many scientists are reassessing their original estimates about the rate at which climate change would unfold—few people thought that the effects of our warming planet would arrive so quickly, and the unexpected nature (not to mention the urgency) of this situation is not lost on the Earth’s youth.

“There is little time left. For our home to not reach its end we need to help it, to look after it, and to love it,” said Vera. “There’s no Plan B. This is the only planet in the universe that sustains life, and if it’s the only one and it comes to an end? Then life ends.”

Credit: Oro Noticias

Damn, boy. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, but this sounds so wise coming from the mouth of a young child. And when you see a 10-year-old kid advocating for legislative action so that he and his peers can live long, fruitful lives on a beautiful and abundant planet, doesn’t it make you wonder what the heck you were doing when you were 10? If you’re a millennial who grew up in the 90s or the aughts, you were blessed with the innocence—the ignorance—of the times, and you had the luxury of ignoring the terrors of our imminent climate crisis. Today’s kids aren’t so lucky, and they deserve all the support they can get as they fight for their right to a clean and healthy Earth.

READ: Activists Interrupt Harvard-Yale Football Game To Protest Climate Change And Cancel Puerto Rico Debt Holdings

Former Miss Colombia Posts Video Dancing After Part Of Her Left Leg Had To Be Amputated

Fierce

Former Miss Colombia Posts Video Dancing After Part Of Her Left Leg Had To Be Amputated

danielaalvareztv / Instagram

Former Miss Colombia Daniella Álvarez is showing that there is nothing that can keep her down. The former beauty pageant star had to have part of her left leg amputated after complications from a routine surgery.

Daniella Álvarez, a former Miss Colombia, is showing the world her resilience.

After a routine surgical procedure, and several follow up surgeries, part of the beauty pageant star’s left leg was amputated. Despite a major surgery, Álvarez is determined to live out the rest of her dreams and regardless of the amputation.

She recently shared a video on Instagram of her dancing for the first time since the surgery 3 weeks ago.

“Putting swing to life with my favorite partner @rickialvarezv. No matter the difficulties,” Álvarez writes in her post. “We must be resilient in life!”

Álvarez’s story is a cautionary tale of the kinds of complications that can arise from routine surgical procedures.

Álvarez explains that she went in to have a lump removed from her abdomen. Unfortunately, that surgery led to complications that required follow up surgeries to rectify the issues. Those follow up surgeries led to ischemia, which is when blood doesn’t flow where it needs to. The ischemia attacked both of her legs yet the left one was the most impacted.

Doctors tried everything they could to save Álvarez’s left leg.

After multiple surgeries, it became clear to doctors that they would not be able to save Álvarez’s leg. The only option left was to amputate and Álvarez accepted that fate with grace and class. The young woman seemed at peace with the decision and trusted that her doctors had done their jobs to the best of their ability.

Best wishes on an increasingly speedy recovery!

Álvarez’s right leg is not completely healed from the complications but it is getting better.

“The ischemia has also affected the functionality of my other foot as well, I am unable to walk,” Álvarez told La FM, according to Hola. “My right foot feels completely asleep and hasn’t woken up and we don’t know how long it will take for the foot to start functioning again.”

READ: Colombia’s Beauty Queen Winner Shared Her Brave Decision To Have Her Leg Amputated

There’s A Group In Colombia Throwing Virtual House Parties With Amazing DJ’s And Supporting Vulnerable Communities In The Process

Things That Matter

There’s A Group In Colombia Throwing Virtual House Parties With Amazing DJ’s And Supporting Vulnerable Communities In The Process

DonaEnCasa / Instagram

With the pandemic forcing millions of us into lockdown and self-isolation, we’ve had to get pretty creative when it comes to socializing. One consequence of the lockdown has been the total shutdown of bars and clubs.

But let’s be real: the desire to perrear hasn’t gone anywhere.

So that’s where digital dance parties come to the rescue. And one group is creating super fun virtual parties with serious DJs spinning everything from EDM to reggaetón, while also supporting at-risk communities.

Dona En Casa is throwing virtual dance parties and supporting local communities with every peso they raise.

The Coronavirus pandemic may have spurred the group into action, but Dona En Casa is working on solving issues that existed long before Covid-19 threatened communities around the world.

Poverty, homelessness, lack of medical care and education – these issues all existed long before the virus hit but imagine how much worse they have become for impoverished communities in Latin America… Things have only gotten worse.

So, Dona En Casa decided to step up and try and do something about it while creating a platform for others to give back and have fun doing so – all from the safety and comfort of their own home. The group is also creating a fun space for people to escape the daily reminder of self-isolation and quarantine with lineups featuring amazing DJs.

Dona En Casa has helped frontline medical workers and has plans to help even more organizations – with your support.

Credit: donaencasa / Instagram

The group started off raising money for families in need of food assistance – and so far, the Dona En Casa and its partygoers have helped feed 100 families. But the group has also helped raise money to buy face masks and PPE for healthcare workers stationed in remote parts of Colombia that don’t have easy access to necessary equipment.

In an interview with Felipe Galvis, a founder of Done En Casa, he said the group is also looking to expand its giving programs by partnering with other organizations – including a dog shelter and a sanctuary for monkeys trafficked in the wildlife trade.

OK – but a digital dance party? What does that even look like…?

Credit: donaencasa / Instagram

Trust me, I had this question, too. But it actually sounds amazing! I mean basically you get to party from the comfort of your home, get dressed up or stay as dressed down as you want, make your own favorite beverage, and hang out with tons of other like-minded people.

The party takes place on Zoom and typically goes for two hours – but Galvis noted that their first party stretched on for four hours because people were having such a good time.

And this isn’t like something you’ll just stream while doing something on the side: Galvis said that at least 70% of people are really active and engaged – there’s tons of chatting, dance challenges, games, and even private chatting going. Can we expect a Done En Casa wedding some day?

Galvis pointed out that the last thing he expected to do in a quarantine was meet new people, but thanks to these parties that’s exactly what’s happened. Together, they’re building a community and in the process supporting vulnerable groups and helping out the entertainment industry and DJs along the way.

Mitú is joining Dona En Casa for two digital fiestas that will benefit TECHO – a major NGO across Latin America.

Credit: us.techo.org

This Friday and Saturday (May 22/23), Mitú is joining Dona En Casa for two crazy fiestas that will take place to benefit TECHO – a Latin American organization that provides support to communities in need.

TECHO is an organization that Dona En Casa co-founder Felipe Galvis holds close to his heart. As a former volunteer, he has seen the impact the organization makes. They provide food assistance, medical aide, supplemental education such as English classes, and they help small businesses with microcredits and coaching. The organization also constructs emergency housing for families who need them most.

You can join in on the parties with a donation that will 100% benefit the organization. The group is asking for a $9 USD donation – since with $9 USD they can feed a family for 10 days. And with your $9 donation you get access to both parties on Friday and Saturday.

Colombia has had a pretty strict response to the Coronavirus pandemic leaving many people with increased anxiety and loneliness.

Credit: donaencasa / Instagram

As soon as it became clear that Coronavirus was spreading across Latin America, Colombia sealed off its borders – including banning its own citizens from returning to Colombia. In fact, the country has been home to some of the strictest measures against the pandemic in Latin America. While this has had a positive effect at combating the outbreak, it’s also led to increased anxiety and loneliness among those who aren’t even allowed to leave their homes to visit family.

The Dona En Casa initiative is a win-win situation that helps people in need while also letting others dance and hang out in a socially distanced digital platform. If you’re interested in signing up for the event, check it out here.