What is the long-term impact of the "Paza la Paz" project, which has been implemented by Horyzon in cooperation with YMCA Colombia for 17 years? An external evaluation commissioned by Horyzon provides information about this. From individual interviews and group discussions with former youth participating in the project, we were able to gain interesting insights in regards to the impact of the "Paza la Paz" project.
The main goal of the project is to empower socially and economically disadvantaged youth so that they can develop into self-determined adults who promote peace, justice and inclusion in their communities. This impact was confirmed by the evaluation, which showed how the project strengthened the young people's sense of responsibility for promoting peaceful coexistence in their environment. They organised activities and events in their communities together with young people, their families and the community to improve coexistence in their neighbourhoods.
Related to this, the evaluation confirmed that thanks to the project, young people are more actively involved in their families, in their educational environment, in associations, in youth platforms, at communal and national level and in communal youth councils.
In addition, the young people who participated in the Paza la Paz project confirm that the knowledge they acquired enabled them to access formal education, such as obtaining university scholarships or enrolment in vocational training schools. In addition, the development of life skills such as leadership, critical thinking and self-awareness helped the young people to realise personal projects related to their studies, community work or other initiatives.
Challenges identified by the study include the financing of small businesses. Currently, the project provides start-up capital to selected young people, but more financial resources are needed to really implement the business projects in the longer term. Furthermore, very few have improved their entrepreneurial skills in designing, launching and managing a community initiative through participation in "Paza la Paz", as the focus of the project is mainly on supporting already existing initiatives.