Gelen Melissa Cossio is a young happy Colombian girl with a difficult story behind her. She was born in CHOCO area… one of the most biodiverse places in the world but also one of the most dangerous places to live full with guerrillas, paramilitary forces, criminal gangs, corrupted politicians and the list goes on. Additionally, there is no infrastructure for the most basic human needs such as health care and education.

CHOCO is a place rich in resources but so poor in opportunities. From CHOCO, her family was forced to leave their home for fear of being killed. They had no option but to come to a big city with their bare hands and they arrived at LA SIERRA, historically one of the most violent neighborhoods in the world. This is where one of Colombia’s social projects are located. A place with no government support, with tons of complexities and adversity but it is also full of many dreams.

Gelen is a 12 year old girl, her dad used to be a police officer and her mom is unemployed. Her dad passed away early this year. Gelen is tall, athletic but she only weighs around 30kg. Colombia’s SIYG Project is not only about getting the kids active and out of trouble but also heavily aware of the importance of nutrition in development and the correlation between malnutrition and dropping out of school and gang involvement. 

Gelen’s journey has kept her on the right path as she manages to get good grades in school, participates in dance and music lessons but she fell in love with the art and sport of Muaythai. Gelen has been training for over 2 years only once a week on Sunday but because of her passion and discipline, she practices by herself and her self-practice certainly has paid off as earlier this year Gelen made the Colombian National Team. 

Sport is Your Chance Colombia has seen 3 girls and 2 boys from their social project move up the ranks and onto the Colombian National Team. “More are coming,” says President Davide Gonzalez, “Hopefully we will get enough resources to bring them over to Bangkok.” The President further stated, “The reason why my best athletes have been ladies is because of a personal posture…. I truly believe this sport has a lot more positive impact in the ladies! Strong woman are the pillar of an equal society!”