Remembering Marta Arango

Marta Arango, a remarkable world leader in improving conditions for children and promoting their rights passed away in November at the age of 80 years. CINDE (Centro Internacional de Educación y Desarrollo Human – link to http://www.cinde.org.co/sitio/), founded by her and her husband in 1976, has been a great inspiration and a wonderful partner to CERG for many yearsand we will miss her greatly.   We can think of no one who has better supported the lives of children, and those who care for them through a combination of theory, research and practice.

Marta seemed to be known by everyone in Colombia who is involved in improving the lives of young children, from people working directly with children at the community level to those working in government and non-government agencies at the highest levels. She was alsorecognized globally for her innovative work in community-based work for early childhood development.  Alejandro Acosta, the current director of CINDE described her this way: ” For all of us who are or have been members of CINDE, this is a moment of farewell from a woman who transgressed the boundaries of her time and opened paths for social change with her convictions and actions, which will remain with us.

In his article for Medellin’s  El Mundo newspaper Manuel Manrique Castro, who has served as the UNICEF Representative in Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala recognized the long road of commitment Marta had in improving conditions for children by recalling that Promesa, which preceded the founding of CINDE, was “an experience that in many ways opened the way to early childhood programs in Colombia. Talking about integral approach, working with families, development and community participation was a real novelty for the time, which shaped in one of the most neglected regions of the country and where in those years the state was a distant fiction”.

Another close working partner with CINDE has described beautifully the result of such a long, deep, commitment: “We live in a world where we need wise Elders, living holders of deep social knowledge who can guide us through these troubled times. Elders who have dedicated their lives to children, are especially precious in bridging the two ends of the human family lifespan. Marta Arango was one such Elder, a human being who had dedicated herself to understanding the complexity of childhood and applying this knowledge to serve vulnerable children and their families and communities in Colombia and around the world”. (Philip Cook, Director of the International Institute of Child Rights and development in Canada (link to: http://www.iicrd.org/).