Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 25, 2012

The Doctor from El Pozón

Cartagena, Colombia

El Pozón is one of the ramshackle neighborhoods located near the Corporación Dios es Amor or CDA school in Cartagena. The area is inhabited by squatters who have managed to construct houses out of assorted junk. The name of the area is derived from the word for “hole” and is aptly named because, when it rains, this area is subject to severe flooding. And when the water rises, the misery increases exponentially in El Pozón. The poor here have nowhere to go and must simply endure the misery and mosquitos until the waters recede. After the rains, the people work to repair the damage to their homes and then go on with their lives. That’s the way things are in El Pozón.

This afternoon, our team visited in the homes of the poor who live in El Pozón. This is one of my favorite things to do because I get to meet people and listen to their stories — the kind of stories that give me insight into how they live and what their hopes and aspirations are. I met some wonderful people this afternoon, but one of the most inspiring was a young girl named Lianis Ruiz. Lianis and her mother Margo live in a two-room shack with a dirt floor. Her mom is single and earns money by working as a maid. Margo could not say enough good things about the CDA school and what it has meant to Lianis and her younger sister who is in the ninth-grade. Lianis has attended the CDA school for the past seven years and just graduated.

I asked Lianis what she was going to do next. Without missing a beat she replied, “Yo quiero ser un médico” or “I want to be a doctor.” The look on her face told me that she was absolutely serious. This is her dream and she has every intention of pursuing it. I turned to the school official who was with us and asked what it would take for Lianis to pursue her dream. She told me that Lianis is an excellent student and hopes to enroll in the medical program at the local university in a few months. The family is raising funds that will be matched by CDA so that Lianis can continue her education. The cost of her tuition for one semester of college is the equivalent of $350 dollars — an enormous amount of money for this single-parent family. But, mother and daughter are committed to working hard to make it happen.

I encouraged Lianis to not give up on her dream and assured her that God will make a way. She smiled and agreed. I later whispered to Pastor Jorge’s son to keep me informed on what happens with Lianis. I appreciate that this sweet young lady and her Mom will have some skin in the game that will give them a sense of purpose and ownership. They do not expect a hand-out nor did they ask for one. However, if necessary, we will give Lianis a hand-up to help keep her dream alive. I am absolutely inspired by students like Lianis who work hard under difficult and oppressive living conditions. And I believe that one day she will walk across the stage to receive her medical degree and become the doctor from El Pozón. Lianis and her family have nothing of worth by this world’s standards, but they are rich nevertheless because they share a dream of a better life and are trusting in God to make their dream a reality.


  1. Love Your stories from Colombia. Touches my heart!! Thanks Uncle

    • Thanks, Auntie.

      • Dear Omar,
        I accidentally came across your article a few minutes ago and was blessed by the way in which you share the hopes and struggles of our dear children at El Pozon. The Lord bless you and thank you for taking interest in the dreams of Lianis!
        Missy Christie de Acosta
        CDA Colombia – Conviventia

      • It was a blessing for me to visit the school and neighborhood of El Pozon while I was in Colombia. Thank you for all you are doing to bring hope to the children and families of El Pozon.

  2. Omar,
    I love this story. I look forward to hearing how God uses this precious girl!! I’m so excited you are in Columbia. I pray God will use you to minister mightily to the people of Columbia.

    • Thanks, Christy. I too am looking forward to how God will use Lianis. She should take her college entrance exam soon. Let’s keep praying for her.

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