TACOMA, Washington — COL5VID is an organization founded by Colombian students and young professionals who saw the necessity to do something positive for vulnerable communities in the middle of the chaos and widespread food insecurity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Colombia, around four million people don’t have access to basic supplies. COL5VIC’s main mission is to promote food security in affected families, distribute elements of primary necessity and create a nationwide movement among the Colombian youth to contribute to the economic reactivation of the country. The organization started with a team of 15 friends. However, with the help of social media, it rapidly grew into an international network of youth working toward COVID-19 relief in Colombia.
Effects of COVID-19 in Colombia
After the mandatory lockdown announced in March by Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez to control the spread and mitigate the effects of COVID-19, Colombian citizens were forced to stay home for six months. Consequently, thousands of small businesses had to close and reduce the wages of their employees.
A significant proportion of the Colombian population lives under the minimum wage of approximately $260 a month. In 2018, 10.9% of Colombians lived with less than $3.20 a day. Approximately 62% of workers had informal employment in 2019. Due to the pandemic and the months of mandatory quarantine, such workers lacked a source of income. In this context, COL5VID saw the opportunity to have an impact on these communities that more than ever needed a hand of support.
National and International Scope
COL5VID operates both nationally and internationally. On the national level, the organization collects food, clothes, books, hygiene kits, electronic equipment and other essential supplies. Additionally, it amasses monetary donations to buy groceries and distribute them. With each donation of $6 the organization receives, it can feed a four-member family for approximately one week.
COL5VID has served as a bridge between donors and foundations completing the chain of distribution. The foundations send representatives to communities and assist COL5VID by distributing the aid collected across the national territory.
At the international level, students from different universities of the United States have become ambassadors of their academic institutions and have taken responsibility for spreading the word on the organization’s mission and efforts for COVID-19 relief in Colombia. Moreover, COL5VID receives monetary funds that are allocated as food coupons through Grupo Argos, a Colombian holding company, and Give to Colombia, a platform that sends resources to Colombian communities.
Achievements and Impact
COL5VID has reached more than 20,000 families affected by the pandemic. The organization, which started as a simple initiative, has collected approximately $600,000,000 of its one billion dollar goal from more than 2,500 donors in 10 different countries. It has been able to distribute 3,000 monthly grocery bags and 50,000 kg of food in 16 different departments of Colombia. This organization has not only contributed to the relief of COVID-19 in Colombia’s vulnerable communities but has jointly fought against food insecurity and malnutrition, one of the main causes of death in the country.
Composed of students and young professionals, the impact of the COL5VID team has been great. The team has invested more than 5,000 hours to make this effort possible and to create a network of more than 100 young Colombians to broadcast the mission not only within the national territory but also in many universities around the world. However, the efforts won’t stop once the pandemic is over because COL5VID is working exhaustively on its long-term vision: to boost projects related to sustainability, health, education and entrepreneurship to contribute to the social and economic reactivation of the country.
COL5VID recognizes that many Colombian communities lack basic supplies. With the country in lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the chances of going hungry have become significantly higher. The lockdown was no obstacle for these young leaders in making an impact on COVID-19 relief in Colombia.
– Isabella León Graticola