IPM sponsors life-changing trips to Colombia and Wyoming
International Partners in Mission (IPM), based in Cleveland Heights, works across borders of faith, culture and economic circumstance to create partnerships that build justice, peace and hope. The core program provides financial and technical support to 60 community-initiated programs in 20 countries. They include El Salvador, India, Kenya, Nepal and Nicaragua, and the focus is on women, children and youths.
IPM also organizes immersion-experience programs—short-term travel opportunities to the countries where it works. Participants, many from Northeast Ohio, learn about the history and culture of these countries, and walk in solidarity with the locals whose work IPM supports.
This year, IPM is organizing two immersions to El Salvador and one to Nicaragua, mostly for college students. Several other immersions are open for anyone to join.
One group will head to Colombia April 8–16, and another will go to the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, July 30 through Aug. 6.
The Colombia Immersion will start in the capital, Bogota, where participants will visit historic sites. Then, they will travel to Ibague, the music capital, where they will visit three IPM project partners.
One of those partners, Niños Trabajadores, which means Working Children, provides education and outreach to children who work in the marketplace to support their families. IPM supported the development of a reading and writing composition workshop where children learn fundamental skills. However, the project’s influence extends beyond striving to improve the children’s academics. It also regularly hosts movie nights, as many of the children do not have access to, or the financial means for, this type of entertainment. The movies are chosen to promote values of love, solidarity, respect, friendship and listening. Currently, Niños Trabajadores serves 25 children and 60 people indirectly, including parents.
Another project in Ibague is Ser Mujer (Being a Woman). It provides opportunities for women to earn a sustainable income. The women participate in workshops and training in food-processing techniques and handcrafts. This training expands their skills and diversifies the products they create and sell at the market. In 2014, 25 women were served while 100 more, especially family members, were assisted.
In Wyoming, IPM supports a Native American Project, Sacajawea Treasures. The project works with Eastern Shoshone tribal members to develop sustainable economic opportunities and promote the native culture. The individuals make traditional beadwork, which they sell. This both provides income and educates the larger community on Shoshone traditions. The project also provides a senior citizens’ program.
IPM encourages Heights residents to join its immersion trips. If you are interested in learning more about them, contact Raluca Besliu at email@example.com.
Raluca Besliu is a staff member at IPM. Originally from Romania, she has a degree in international relations from Vassar College and a master's degree from the University of Oxford.