Island School Can Transform Town

By Helen Vaughn
Director of School Services
(Helen is pictured above with some prospective students)

TeachBeyond has been asked to partner with local missionaries in Colombia to start a new school in Bocachica, a town on the island of Tierra Bomba in the Caribbean Sea.

The majority of the estimated 9,000 residents of the island live in poor conditions and approximately 50 percent of the population is children. The adults are uneducated for the job market and unchurched. They fish and make trinkets to sell to tourists in the nearby city of Cartagena.

The sparsely-settled island has neither fresh running water nor a sewer system. Barges bring drinking water from the mainland and pump it to a large cistern in the community. Locals purchase their water in small tanks. The island has only had electricity since 1998. It has no cars or roads and a sporadically-operating school. The highest elevation is 70 feet above sea level.

Helen Vaughn and Howard Dueck (left) and Sarah Trussel (fifth from left) are TeachBeyond members meeting with local people starting the school.

Helen Vaughn, Howard Dueck (left) and Sarah Trussel (fifth from left) are TeachBeyond members meeting with local people starting the school.

A Colombian pastor and his wife went to Bocachica as missionaries to establish a Christian church. This church plant has won favor among the islanders; even among those who do not attend. The church now wants to start a Christian school to strengthen the faith and provide an education to transform the quality of life on the island.

TeachBeyond was approached to help start this school and we are enthusiastically helping.  While visiting there, my colleague and I did training and consulting with the missionary couple and a group of islanders working on establishing the school. Ed and Sarah Trussel, TeachBeyond members serving at El Camino Academy in Bogota, Colombia, introduced us to the project and are helping to establish the school.

My enthusiasm about this partnership lies in the islanders’ warm welcome of the church and desire for a school. It seems like an opportunity for transformation just waiting for someone to say, “yes, we will come alongside you.”

As we help the school prepare to open in January 2017, we are searching for a couple to live on this poor, but beautiful, Caribbean island and teach English at the school. With the island so close to the world-renowned tourist city of Cartagena, becoming an English speaker will open many doors for employment.  We also are looking for people interested in helping finance and pray for this project. Do you know anyone who may respond to this call? You can email me at hvaughn@teachbeyond.org to learn more about serving on this beautiful island or contributing to the school.

The islanders seem open to Christianity.  A grand opportunity awaits to share Christ, to provide skills for employment, and to truly make a difference for good on the island.