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Tierra Bomba


Conservation benefit: Environmental education for youth; 2.5-acre outdoor environmental classroom

Community benefit: Soccer equipment and environmental education program

Date Approved: 06.2021


This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

This project offers environmental education and activities to underserved kids on Tierra Bomba Island, near the city of Cartagena. Our nonprofit partner Fútbol con Corazón (Soccer with Heart) uses soccer to teach kids teamwork, problem-solving, leadership, and respect for the environment.

Colombia has 1,800 miles of coastline. Its ocean waters are home to 2,600 marine species, including six of the world’s seven marine turtle species. But Tierra Bomba Island faces serious environmental problems, caused by:

  • Coral-destroying fishing practices, including dynamite and trawling
  • Poverty
  • Lack of services, including no adequate waste collection or treatment
  • Unregulated development
  • Sea level rise and erosion, which have already washed away two streets

These factors and the decline of traditional fishing and agriculture have combined to create a culture of disregard for the environment. The residents of Tierra Bomba are primarily farmers and fishers. Youth there have few educational, enrichment, or employment opportunities. It is clear that unless attitudes and practices change, the future of the island’s ecosystems—and so of its inhabitants—is bleak.

Making just these kinds of changes is the mission of Fútbol con Corazón. About 200 boys and girls in Tierra Bomba, from 5 to 16 years old, will participate in FCC’s special brand of soccer. The program stresses respect, equity, and honesty. Teams draw up a code of conduct before each match, girls and boys play together, and everyone gets the same amount of playing time.

The program also brings environmental education, including field trips, beach cleanups, and mangrove planting. Kids learn about their amazing coastal environment and how to conserve it. They also acquire skills that may help them find jobs in wildlife-based tourism.

The community is setting aside about two and a half acres as an outdoor environmental classroom or living museum. Maintenance will be financed by small fees charged to tourists and tour operators.

Project Updates

February 2023

Activities for children and adolescents have included a community recycling day, mangrove planting, and recycling and solid waste management workshops. The program strives not only to teach kids about the environment and let them have fun, but also to foster integrity, empathy, communication, and leadership. An assessment showed that the participants’ emotional, social, and interpersonal skills had improved. There was no gang activity or pregnancy among the participants, which is significant in a community that is poor and offers few opportunities to its youth.

Read more

June 2022

Field activities with children and adolescents began in February; sessions were held Monday through Friday. A total of 200 kids, from age five to 17, have participated. A key part of the program is to keep families involved, and there have also been separate meetings for parents and guardians, family events, and regular follow-up phone calls to parents to make sure kids stay engaged. A community recycling day was held in March.

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February 2022

Our project partners have hired a field coordinator for the program. They have also engaged the community, letting them know about this opportunity for children to learn about the environment and become leaders through thoughtfully designed sports programs. In February, they plan to start enrolling children in the program.

Read more
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