Katerine Tangarife, beneficiary of our housing program and ex-volunteer for TECHO, talks to us about her life experiences and states “poverty is not just about economic class, but also about people who have lost the meaning of life and will to serve others.”
A dreamer with discipline who has showed us once again that overcoming poverty is possible only if we take it on as a collective, urgent issue.
THIS IS KATERINE’S STORY AND HER WORK WITH TECHO-COLOMBIA
Katerine was born 26 years ago in the beautiful city of Manizales in Colombia.
I belong to a family of 7 brothers and sisters (me being the oldest), my grandma, my mother, and an uncle. I was raised by my maternal grandmother. Although lacking economically, my childhood was filled with nice experiences, games, and smiles. I was educated in my city’s public schools, thanks to the fortitude and efforts of the woman I admire most: my grandma. Her determination made my dream to study possible.
Thanks to a full scholarship granted by La Universidad Autónoma de Manizales (UAM), I completed an undergraduate degree in Political Science, Government, and International Relations. I owe not only my degree to UAM but I also received its unconditional support and backing during all the hard times I went through before achieving another one of my biggest dreams: becoming a professional. In addition to my university studies, I was always a volunteer at various organizations that worked in human rights, gender equality, public youth policy, among other things. That has been my favorite pastime, being able to contribute my knowledge and experiences to the benefit of others.
Among the organizations that I had the opportunity to work with, and one that I allowed me to be there for a couple of months, was TECHO. I arrived there by chance, considering that in 2007 my family was the beneficiary of the first TECHO house constructed in Manizales. It was wonderful to be able to take part in the construction of what would be our new house. Under incessant rain, later replaced by a beautiful rainbow, the wish of an entire family was fulfilled: to have a respectable home.
Although I was only with TECHO a short time, I had the opportunity to meet people with amazing hearts and to learn about the organization’s philosophy of solidarity and helping one another. It convinced me even more that it’s possible to change lives through small acts.
There were two main contributions that TECHO gave to my life: the first, the happiness of living in a dignified space after 8 years of living in shantytowns and, the second, it reaffirmed my love of volunteer work for the benefit of others.
WHAT DOES POVERTY MEAN TO YOU?
Poverty is to expect restrictions when accessing the minimum of basic needs (food, housing, public services). But poverty also means a lack of criticality with regard to the problems of society, conformism, inability to dream, and to make things possible. It is abandoning the war when you have only lost a battle. It’s losing your youthful spirit and stopping smiling at life. Poverty is not only a question of class, but also of people who have lost their meaning of life and sense of helping one another.