The Colorful House in Bogotá

January, 2017

An inviting, brightly painted house can be seen perched on top of a hill in Sierra Morena, a slum in the southern part of Colombia’s capital. It stands in stark contrast to the ramshackle corrugated-iron huts otherwise found on the outskirts of Bogotá. Casa de los Colores, a center run by the charitable organization CES Waldorf (Corporación Educativa y Social Waldorf), is there to help people in one of the most poverty-stricken areas of Colombia. Its declared mission is to take children and young people off the street and protect them against malnutrition, abuse, and sexual exploitation. The program is based on the precepts laid out in the Waldorf educational philosophy, which focuses on a holistic approach to the development of young people. The aim of Waldorf is to allow the children under their care to grow on a personal level and to give them the skills they need to take their lives into their own hands.

The CES Waldorf project, launched back in 2001, has also been receiving funding for three years from Primavera, the charitable organization run by Bosch associates. Maria Ganserer, who now works as a production planner at the plastics plant in Waiblingen, was the person who proposed providing funding and support for the project after volunteering in Bogotá for Casa de los Colores in 2012. “Since completing my secondary education, I have always wanted to help people in the developing world hands-on.” Once she had finished the program for young engineers in Feuerbach, the industrial engineer went about putting her plan into action. She had the full backing of her supervisor at the time, as well as that of the Feuerbach plant management team.

She learned about the many activities performed by the center. While working at the nursery, which provides childcare services for 66 toddlers aged two-and-a-half to five, she served food, played with the children, and watched over them during their afternoon nap. “It was an unbelievable experience being able to gain their trust so quickly and hearing ‘te quiero’ (I like you),” she recalls.

Along with the kindergarten, 150 or so young people take part in a program designed to promote their education and social well-being. The children are provided with tutors to help them with their homework, learn to sew, paint, and make pottery, and have the chance to study music, dance, or theatre based on their individual artistic talents. “I constructed a bead-weaving loom and taught the children the techniques of craft,” says Ganserer. Occupational training for the young people is organized in conjunction with local industry. Some of former students who found jobs after completing their training are now working as volunteers in the project. For Ganserer personally, even if the work at CES Waldorf and life in general in Bogotá were not always easy, she is grateful for the invaluable experience she gained in her time volunteering at the center. “There were small moments each day that made my stay in Colombia so wonderful and truly special.” These were the times when she could see that the people were really benefiting from the assistance the center is offering.

Bosch Colombia has been supporting the project for a year now. Helio Duenha, who heads the local subsidiary in the South American country, considers his involvement as a duty and an obligation: “For us, demonstrating corporate social responsibility is an absolute must in a country where many people live in poverty. Education and counseling allow children, adolescents, and their parents to build a better future.”

CES Waldorf - Like a small paradise in dreary surroundings


The project "Corporación Educativa y Social Waldorf" was founded in 1997 by Helmut von Loebell, a German-Colombian business man. His goal was to get street children of a shanty town near Bogotá off the street and protect them from malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse. Currently, around 250 children aged 3 to 16 and their families are being taken care of.

Since 2008, the project is nationally recognized. However, the financial support is low and the majority of the financial needs of approximately 300 thousand EUR is covered by donations and sponsors.

The children get a healthy diet, medical care and holistic education based on the educational philosophy of Waldorf. They also learn craft activities (knitting, painting, pottery, stone-work) and depending on personal skills are taught subjects such as music, dance and theater, among others. Vocational training for youths is organized in collaboration with local industry and some of them, who have found a job after training, participate today as volunteers in the project.

Another important area is the support and guidance of families - mostly single mothers. The program ranges from adult education to workshops on social behavior, health care, healthy eating, among other things. With this part of the social work also the situation of families and their coexistence improved. The CES Waldorf is run very well, the children are lovingly cared for and their families closely involved. The teachers and coaches are very dedicated and so the CES Waldorf seems to be a small paradise in it's dreary environment.

The representative chairman of Primavera - Mr. Helmut Schwarz - paid a visit to this project early in 2013. Read more about their experiences in Colombia.

A salsa dancer's dream

January 2014, Cali, Colombia

This is the story of Jonathan Gonzalez. He grew up in the slums of Cali, an industrial center located approximately 300 kilometers southwest of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá. He has dreams - just like anyone else does: but Jonathan is just one of many young people in Colombia who get a unique opportunity thanks to involvement from Bosch ...

Visit of "Don Bosco" in Colombia

February 2013, Cali, Colombia

Mr. and Mrs. Schwarz traveled to Colombia in Febuary this year and, on this occasion, visited the Primavera project "Don Bosco", in which young people live and get trained for several technical professions. Read on to find out more about the impressions, the two of them collected on site ...

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School and vocational training center Don Bosco


The social project Don Bosco is located in a poor area of the industrial city of Cali, with 1.5 million inhabitants. Founded in 2008 by priests of the Order of the Salesians, it includes a large vocational training center, currently serving more than 3,000 young people of difficult social background.

The children and young people shall be protected from crime, drug trafficking and prostitution, which, unfortunately, are present 24/7 in their immediate environment. In contrast, Don Bosco aims at education for positive social behavior with respect for fellow human beings and the environment. With these fundamentals and a profound education, the children have a chance for a self-determed, good life. Many companies in the region have already taken over apprentices of Don Bosco and the cooperations shall be extended in the future, supported by Primavera.

Primavera is sponsoring this project, for example through the funding of further education courses for young people in automotive engineering, electrical, heating and air conditioning technology and precision engineering. Many people from different areas of the Bosch group also support the courses by providing their personal experience and expertise.

The first course in heating and air conditioning systems will begin in early June. In September, a second course is to follow in electrical engineering. We are looking forward to the first feedback from instructors and participants!

About Colombia ...

Capital: Bogotá
Area 1.138.748 km²
Population: 46,4 million
Population Density:36,8 inhabitants/ km²
Population Growth:1,4% p.a.
Official Languages: Spanish
Literacy Rate: 92,5%
Religion: Catholic Majority (90%),
Curreny: Peso

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