Miami-based Developing Minds Foundation is funding programs to rehabilitate former child soldiers in Colombia. The foundation partners with the Colombian government, as well as local and international NGO’s to provide elementary school education, vocational training, psychological counseling, and spiritual guidance to former child combatants.
Philippe Houdard is the founder of Developing Minds. He said, “Education goes a long way to putting people on the right path, and we know we can do something positive here, too.” (Houdard himself graduated with a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard University and a BS in Business Administration from University of Florida.)
“We get past that hard exterior layer, and underneath, what we discover is that these are really gentle kids and their humanity still exists,” Houdard said.
Houdard drew inspiration from his father, who survived the front lines of the French-Algerian war in the 1950s.
“When I see these kids in Colombia, a lot of times I look at their faces and think about what my father’s face would have looked like when he came back,” he said.
Houdard’s father never overcame his wartime trauma.