[dropcap1]C[/dropcap1]olombia needs social leaders, leaders that can look into the eyes of someone else’s pain and be moved by the realities of daily life, leaders that despite the small possibility of achieving significant social change decide to do something about it and follow their heart down the most unusual path of all: the road to social justice.

There is no better person to talk about hunger than those who have lived it, no better experts on the horror of war than those that have fled from it, those that can talk about unemployment because they live it due to a lack of training and opportunities, that can talk about exclusion because they have suffered from it, that know what it feels like to be abused as a child because it has happened to them.

The Fundación Mundo Mejor was founded in 1996 as a product of the determination of a group of people. Even if they weren’t prepared to create a foundation or had sufficient funds to cover the costs of the social activities planned, they decided to believe in their dream of contributing to a Better World (Mundo Mejor) by providing shelter and assistance to a group of children that living in the street with a childhood marked by hunger, lack of schooling, abuse and exploitation.

If there didn’t exist this type of blessed ignorance then there wouldn’t be Foundations like ours that come from the heart and guarantee the highest standard of all: that of human solidarity.

Thanks to this “ignorance” when they started, the Fundación Mundo Mejor has now accompanied more than 750 families to improve their quality of life and provided hope to more than 1,200 children since work began in 1996.

To follow our dream hasn’t been easy, but our courage is strengthened every day seeing the looks of the boys and girls that rely on us, that inspire us to always respond with “yes!”, to provide them with protection. These children give us the necessary force with their example, because they have the gift of seeing the happiness of the simple things in everyday life and have the hope of having more complex things in the future. Believe me when I say that each one of these children is worth the effort. We could never imagine saying “no” to the true heroes of our times, to these martyrs of a changing society.

When I was in religious life I thought that I had to live a life in which I had to reduce my personal defects. However in the day-to-day effort of social work, I discovered that this wasn’t important because even our defects can help if we put them towards a higher purpose. These can become a tool to help us move forward with the complex realities that we face and live a personal experience much more profound than our own sanctity. Pride, for example, keeps us going in the most difficult moments, vanity demands that the programs developed for the community are integrated and well prepared and rage allows us to suffer when we see or experience injustice. These defects can be transformed into concrete actions for our neighbors.

Today I believe in a different type of sanctity, a sanctity that is allied to our development in social work and that it can exist perfectly within our happiness. I believe in a social sanctity.

Europe had the First and Second World Wars, causes of severe pain that led towards social reflection and motivated a change of mentality that today translates into less violent deaths, less unemployment, less social exclusion, less people living on the street, less children not in school. We should understand that a society aware of its social realities will be a society of unstoppable action.

We live in a process of change, in a society full of social pain that lamentably doesn’t have to worship war. A society in which different types of culture exist: the culture of books, of cinema, of theatre, but what we lack is culture in the social area. I feel that the pain that Colombia is currently living because of its harsh reality can be transformed if we know how to take advantage of it, if we know how to look this reality in the eyes without creating a scandal, if we learn to stop being indifferent and be part of the solution, allowing future generations to assume this reality so that their actions are a reflection of their determination to build a new humanity. A society in which social policy is supported by a society that, tired of so much suffering and hatred, doesn’t allow others to fall over again.

In my time in religious life I had an experience that changed me forever. I was on a bus going to another city, accompanying a nun who is a friend of mine. During the journey I heard a little girl crying. I looked up to see what was happening and I observed a woman pinching and hitting the girl to make her stop crying, which filled me with rage. I turned around angrily to my friend, thinking about speaking strongly to the mother to try to stop the situation. I said to my friend, “look at what that woman is doing!”. The nun replied in a very unexpected manner, saying “yes, I see it, that woman needs double the love”. Today I am convinced that if social processes aren’t founded in a profound sense of solidarity, of “believing” in others, taking into account the cultural elements that are essential for the transformation of our thoughts, then we won’t be able to achieve any real social change. This will only be limited to superficial and momentary transformations that don’t help to build a better world based in justice, solidarity, equality and truth. We can’t allow ourselves to only implement projects, we need to live and embody the hopes and ideals that we want to see in our society.

In Colombia I will always be a foreigner because of my accent and my customs, but never because of my heart. I have been captivated by the happiness of the Colombian people that despite daily suffering, smile with hope, get excited about the small things in life and share the pain of others. Colombia is a country in which it is an honor to live, and for that reason I hope that at the end of my days they will say: “he was born a foreigner, but died a Colombian”.

There are things that are important for us, such as for me the pride of my father and the love of my children; these are things that give meaning to my existence. But there is one thing that I’ve learnt from the experience of others, which is that you only get one life and it is short. We can live it in a way so that at the end of our lives we can share the sentiments of the poet Felix Leclerc:

“My God, I will go to the end of my days with the craziest dream, which is to bring you the world in my arms.” A world transformed by love.

Today I would like to thank the entities that have collaborated with us throughout these years to support a small Foundation that has a big heart, a heart that dreams, that beats with force and that is full of passion.

Thank you!

STEVE CARTY

Executive Director