Pedro Pablo Ramos Sastoque
This profile was prepared when Pedro Pablo Ramos Sastoque was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Pedro has created a comprehensive learning program tailored for refugee teenagers coming into the slums of Bogotá, offering them a realistic alternative to gangs, drugs, and violence. Pedro’s classes are simple and fun, similar to those offered by many other teen-rescue programs that once operated in these neighborhoods. However, Pedro’s classes—a mix of theater classes, job training, and leadership seminars—are taught by people from the local community rather than outside professional teachers. As part of their coursework, these community teachers assign their students projects requiring extensive interaction with the community. The teens clean garbage from the streets, open new pizza parlors, and generally get to know their new neighbors in Bogotá. Locals begin to see the teens not as dangerous gangsters bent on tearing the neighborhood apart but as upstanding citizens. At the same time, as teens have daily contact with long-time residents, they begin to feel connected to the community, making them less likely to join the gangs that seek to harm that community.