The time off from school at the “Casa Hogar Niña María” residence is over: Since the end of January, the girls are back from their holidays with their families. A look back

Twice a year, it’s holiday time at the girls residence in Istmina! The residence closes and the girls head off to their indigenous families. Most of them have an arduous journey through the jungle ahead of them. Their journey takes eight to nine hours across the rivers that serve as roads in the little-developed Chocó. The parents pick up their daughters at the residence and accompany them on this journey. The journey costs 50 euros per person – a high economic cost for the families in the Chocó. Most of them suffer from poverty.

But the effort is worth it. The holidays last more than two months, from the end of November to the end of January. When the girls return to their indigenous families during this time, they also reflect on their roots. In the residence in Istmina, they speak only Spanish most of the time. With their families, they get back in touch with their tradition and language. In addition, the girls can immerse themselves in the original nature at home, for example in a river bath. An experience that is not possible in Istmina because of the pollution.

The girls come from two different ethnic groups. Janyelina (11), Shirley (16) and Russili (10) belong to the indigenous Wounaan ethnic group, Jannesy (9) and Jessenia (11) to the Embera people. During their family visits, they can pass on the knowledge they have received in school lessons. The parents, most of whom had no access to education, are proud of their clever daughters.

When the girls return to the “Casa Hogar Niña María” residence after the two-month holiday, some of them are heavily packed with delicacies from their villages: plantains, fruit, rice. They proudly present their souvenirs to the others. See you on the next holiday!