In 2005, Juanes created his Mi Sangre (My blood) foundation, with the purpose of rehabilitating and educating land mine victims and their families and reintegrating them socially and economically.Today, the foundation’s reach has expanded to major educational concerns, such as providing free preschool education in Colombia. Juanes has also become a symbol of social consciousness, having recently staged a massive free concert to promote peace among Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Why a land mine foundation?I wrote the song ‘Fijate Bien’ in 1999 with no pretensions. It was just a song on the album. And when it became the single, all these people started to show up -the victims, the soldiers, the foundations – wanting to do things, and I realized that there was much to be done with music. Did it change your perception about Colombia’s political situation? Yes. Up until a couple of years ago, I worked in many different directions, until I understood that what was most important for me was education. We handle two aspects. One, of course, is education for the victims, of which 65% are soldiers, and 35% are civilians, half of them children. So we take retired soldiers, for example, who want to study but have yet to finish elementary school or high school, and give them a scholarship. Or we provide labor rehabilitation. If someone wants to farm their land, we send them to get appropriate training. The other aspect is (universal) preschool education, which doesn’t exist in Colombia.Isn’t preschool education a bit removed from the original notion of the foundation?No, because it’s a way to invest in that seed that in 15 years will become a kid who can either take up arms or adopt a different mentality. How is your foundation financed? Initially through me. I would donate money from concerts, for example. Now, we have a board of directors, private donations and we have our own little company that makes shirts and other products with messages of peace.As a public figure with a foundation, people must assume you have a certain political stance. Do you like that role? It’s not about that. What I’ve realized is you can truly do significant things with music. You can mobilize people, in the good sense of the world, even if only to expose a message or put something on the public agenda. For example, I didn’t know preschool education wasn’t mandatory in Colombia. So, we need to speak out. That (massive demonstration march for peace last year in Colombia) was unprecedented, and those actions are very important.
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