About Eunice Caicedo

My mother grew up in Colombia. Her parents were working with a church there in Pereira, serving as the principals and teachers of its affiliated elementary school. The church’s groundskeeper was Eunice’s father, who lived in the countryside outside of Pereira. During the bloody period of civil conflict in the 1950’s, known as La Violencia", Eunice’s family was forced off their land and had to join the migration of homeless families into urban centers. To give Eunice a chance at a safe and positive life, her father asked my mother’s family to take her in. She was 15 when she came to live with my grandparents.

Having never received any education, she learned to read and write in their house and later from family friends in the city of Cali. She enrolled in the 5th grade at a local school, learning alongside 10-year olds. She worked during the day and went to school at night, eventually catching up and graduating from high school with students close to her age. She then received a teaching certification from a government institute and began a 38-year career in education, 20 of which as director of San Marcos School, which taught 440 elementary students during 2 daily shifts (day and night school). While teaching, she earned an advanced degree at Javeriana University, one of the most prestigious institutions in the nation.

Eunice has loved and taught thousands of children over those years, empowering them to lead positive and successful lives – and to think that as a young adult she was illiterate and homeless. Her career in education is the manifestation of her good character, persistence, and dedication to community.

Having recently retired from her position at San Marcos, she wants to begin a school in Remansos, one the most impoverished barrios of Cali, currently full of children whose circumstances resemble her own when she was young. But her story is an argument against hopelessness, proof of how much potential each of those children have, if only they are given the space and support to learn and grow.

Too many children in Remansos have no access to an education, and those who do receive no individual attention at the huge government schools. El Sendero de la Vida, Amor y Paz will be a place that would give individual attention to students, through after-school tutoring, classes in writing, math and reading, as well as art, music and recreation activities and a hot lunch program.

If this new school sets only a few children on the path to becoming the next Eunice Caicedo’s of Cali, then the entire project will be a lasting success. The world needs more people like her, and I see this project as a step in resolving that need.

-- Eric

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizen can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”
- Margaret Mead