Guatanfur: in the Colombian countryside

Guatanfur is the name of a Family Farm School started in 1992 in the Colombian village of Machetá.

This pilot project was a joint effort of faithful of Opus Dei and Cooperators. It seeks to provide boys in the area with an education that will benefit both themselves and their families. Guatanfur combines the teaching of the traditional primary and secondary subjects with technical training in agriculture and stock-raising. In this way the students are given the means to improve the productivity of their families’ farms.

Laboratories, nurseries and stock-raising enclosures, together with classrooms and computer rooms, make up the infrastructure of Guatanfur. But the education the boys receive is not confined to academic and technical areas. It also includes a solid Christian formation aimed at helping them develop all facets of their character.

The Guatanfur Family Farm School seeks to benefit the entire community, and therefore the participation of the students’ families is considered vital. A program is offered for fathers of families and small farmers from the region, which includes technical training in agriculture and stock raising, human and spiritual formation and business skills needed for small rural enterprises. One of its objectives is the search for alternative crops and techniques that make local farm work more efficient and profitable.

After ten years in a provisional location, Guatanfur moved into its new home on January 16 of this year. It was a day of celebration for the families, which began with the consecration of the altar of the oratory. Bishop Jorge Enrique Jimenez of Zipaquira, current president of CELAM, officiated. Afterwards there were traditional games and regional dances.

The inauguration of Guatanfur also served as a framework for a «Forum on Rural Education,» attended by representatives of the national education department and the Ministry of Agriculture. Pedro Puig and Roberto Garcia, directors of the world organization of Family Farm Schools, joined technical experts from the Ministry of Agriculture in discussing experiences in this field in countries such as France, Spain, Argentina and Brazil.

Romana, n. 34, January-June 2002, p. 132.

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