THE KIDS OF BOGOTA; THE INSPIRATION
The inspiration for The Kids in Bogota (The Kids of Mumbai and The Kids of The Kimberley) comes in many forms. I was living in New York City, far away from my family and friends in Australia and I wanted to connect with them, especially my young nieces and nephews, in a richer, more meaningful way. I had previously written two non-fiction books and I loved planting seeds for thought and discussion with people far away.
So I wrote some children's stories - I did this because I wanted to re-connect with my nieces and nephews and make them laugh and think. And because I missed them dearly.
Then I was travelling through Central and South America. In Panama I met a really cool couple who I spent a few days with eating some great food at the local markets and just hanging out. I said goodbye and flew to Columbia. A week or so later I was walking through Medellin, a place with a population close to 4 million, and I just happened to bump into them again. We hung out and we shared stories about our life and interests. We also discussed my books and children's stories. I then said goodbye as I headed to Bogota, the capital of Columbia, the same place they would be heading a few days later to teach English at a local school.
When I was down in Brazil for the Olympics I received an email asking if they could use one of my children's stories as a class project where the kids could illustrate the stories and get them talking about its contents. Of course I said yes.
Then I thought about something I thought a lot during my travels in Central and South America, how can these kids create a life to get out of their current situations? Apart from sport I thought was there any way they could break the cycle of poverty? I saw that international teachers, like my new friends, was one great way, letting the kids learn about new cultures and at the same time getting a great education from worldly and curious people. Then I learnt that the government was actually planning on cutting the funding for the international teachers which couldn't be good for the next generation of kids.
So I thought why not take the illustrations that the kids were doing anyway and put it all together into a children's book that can be designed professionally, published and sold. The kids see that they're actually good enough to break this cycle, see firsthand that the work they have done can be sold all around the world and see their names on something tangible. All whilst the royalties go back into keeping the amazing international teachers that they so desperately need, and giving them further funds for more resources, books, tables, chairs and whatever else they need.
The Kids of Bogota was born. A powerful initiative that we hope to recreate in cities all over the world!