By Colnodo BOGOTA, Colombia, 30 September 2004
The Youth Communication and Information Network (RIJ) is a young people’s communication and information network that operates in three Bogotá neighbourhoods (Bosa, Suba and San Cristobal). It is the result of a project implemented by COLNODO in alliance with the Fundación Teatral Kerigma (Kerigma Theatrical Foundation) and the AVP Foundation under the auspices of the Programa Presidencial Colombia Jóven (Young Colombia Presidential Program) and the German Cooperation Agency, GTZ.
RIJ’s predecessors are the Neighbourhood Informational Units developed by APC member from Bogotá, Colnodo, with the support of the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Bosa and Altos de Cazuca Communication and Strengthening for Peace and Coexistence Local Project Unit. Forty-five youth leaders belonging to youth organisations in the localities of Suba, San Cristobal and Bosa are part of this network. They have participated in training processes on the technological, communicate and human components to enable them to shape, consolidate and ensure the sustainability of the network once the project has ended.
An evaluation workshop took place in Bogotá on August 26-28 to share lessons learned from the RIJ projects supported by GTZ and Young Colombia within the framework of a local subsidies programme. This workshop included nine projects developed by various organisations in various areas of the country, such as the Colegio del Cuerpo de Cartagena, Option Colombia (Opcion Colombia), Colnodo, Young Choco (Choco Joven), the Imago Foundation, the Colombian National Indigenous Organisation (ONIC), among others. One of the activities that took place within the framework of this workshop was a visit to the Neighbourhood Informational Unit and the RIJ project in the Bosa area; some 40 people became familiar with the work done by RIJ youth on the subjects of communication, the presentation of the RIJ website, the lessons learned from the project and its plans for the future.
The young people who have participated in RIJ declared that it has provided them additional benefits. The use and social appropriation of new information and communications technologies (ICTs) is a key skill for their studies as well as the job market. It has also allowed them to learn about and report on the issues affecting their communities due to the ongoing research and information content production that is published on the RIJ Website.
Comments from some of the young people involved in RIJ (collected during evaluation workshops):
“The Project has been very good and important for me, it has helped me
think and know where I am heading with my life, because I learned a lot and changed my way of thinking; not only about computers and the
internet, but also about work for the community”. Ivan Sarmiento
“I have participated in other Projects as a manager and a student, but
this RIJ has been the best for me; the training we have been offered is very good, I have learned a lot from each teacher. I not only learned to write and upload news to a website, but I also learned about teaching methods, leadership, how to put together projects, I also made friends and forged great friendships with the rest of my classmates and the coordinator.” Pedro Sarmiento
“I come up with ideas, suggestions, and upload news to the webpage in the RIJ. I try to participate as much as I can. Now that the Project is over, we can use the Unidades Informativas Barriales (Neighborhood Informational Units), to continue exchanging information, communicating and sharing what we know. I think we have the human resources and that we will continue this RIJ process to benefit the neighbourhood.” Leidy Leguizamón Urrego
“In the RIJ I provide support for setting new goals and encouraging other young people to get involved so in this way we can educate new leaders that can bring about positive changes for young people. RIJ has trained people to replicate what is learned; we can also use what we’ve learned to manage organisations, businesses, etc., that are interested in helping young people get their message out.” – Cristian Julián Pedroza