Coffee, Democracy and Education

Name:  Angelica Benavides

Age:  15

Place of Birth: Bogotá

Grade:  11th, High school

Years at the school: 2

 Every year at the Anatolí School, students democratically elect the student who will represent them to the Academic Council. Last year Angelica Benavidez was elected by the majority of the students as their president because of her proposals to improve the participation of students in the academic process and to carry out activities to strengthen cohesion within the community.

Angelica has been able to successfully submit several suggestions from the students to the Academic Council.  She obtained approval to develop special activities such as The Sports and Integration Day, when children have the opportunity to participate in different recreational activities.

Angelica is a young leader who works to improve education quality. She is highly respected in the community because she has lived through many difficult experiences.  Her family has a very low income and they aspire to overcome poverty day by day.

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“After completing my studies, I would love to be a leader in the Coffee Growing community and make our voices heard in national politics.”

In the 1990’s during the most difficult period of violence in Cundinamarca, her family was displaced by guerrillas. They had to abandon their land and their coffee plantations and move to Bogotá, where Angelica was born. Life was hard for the family since her parents were unemployed and educational conditions for Angelica were very difficult. She was exposed to the dangers of a large city as sadly the neighborhood she used to live in has the highest homicide rates in Bogotá.

At the beginning of 2000, the security situation in the rural areas of Colombia improved and many displaced communities returned to their lands. Angelica´s family didn’t want to return because there were no schools near their home in Anatolí.  But because of the investment in a new school by the Costa Foundation; in 2012 the family came back to the land and took up coffee growing activities.

“Thanks to this new school and to the improvement of security conditions in the area, we came back to Anatolí. Here I have the opportunity to represent students and to learn about politics and the democratic process, which are very interesting to me. At school we have the opportunity to learn every day about open participation, representation and human rights. I consider this to be a great opportunity to get to know the democratic and open participation process at a local level so that in my adult life I can be part of the national political process and create a country that integrates the opinion of different people.” Angelica supports the school director with a school blog to document the projects developed by students and teachers, giving visibility to their endeavors.

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