The Colombian displacement crisis is one of the many injustices that exist in today’s world. The crisis, which has been mostly ignored by the Colombian government and society, and the international world, is one that is affecting millions of Colombians.
Most think that people in such situations are powerless, especially the youth. Most automatically refuse to draw any future for them that is beyond drugs, gangs, and violence. But those are also unwilling and failing to see the great potential that each of these individuals has.
The displaced community is tired of assistentialism, false promises, and feigned pity. They demand justice, human decency, and encouragement. They want a fair chance not only to overcome their struggle, but also to become successful.
Every individual, every group, every community has an immense amount of power to eradicate injustice.
What can be better than being aware of this at a young age?
I believe in the work that Taller de Paz does because it relies and focuses its work on empowering the displaced youth to address issues that a highly unresponsive society won’t.
I’m confident that each of the kids that we work with has the potential to become agents of change, leaders, and humanitarians.
I believe in their future.
I believe in them.
Sandra Tatiana Bermudez
My name is Sandra Bermúdez. I am a psychology student at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and a current workshop leader of Taller de Paz.
I came to Taller de Paz a year ago, through a friend who told me about this wonderful work. My expectations since then have grown tremendously, and my work with the kids in the situation of displacement living in Suba, has become very thrilling and emotional.
I am amazed to have this opportunity to work with a community that is so motivated to continue this social and ethical work. It has given me the possibility to provide my small grain of sand to an active action that allows for something to be done in front of the complex problems of forced displacement.
That being said, I dare to affirm that I am a faithful proponent of that idea that we are capable of lending a friendly hand to another, without concern for the circumstances or situation. In this way we can make Colombia and the world a better place to live.
My name is Nelson Andres Freire Kane. My father’s parents immigrated to the US
from Ecuador when my father was in grade school and my mother’s family, of western European descent, has been in the US for several generations. I was raised in a family that
effortlessly mixed and matched different pieces of Latin American and North
American cultures. The cultural diversity my parents offered me as well as having lived in both South and North America have lead to the formation of my sense of who I am. I do not consider myself fully one or the other, I integrate both in my own sense of identity. I have always had a strong sense of social justice and the right that each of us has, as human beings, to live in peace and safety with our families, to eat healthy food and drink clean water, to go to school, have access to health care and to have a job that pays a living wage.
I believe in the work of Taller de Paz because I see how it helps our kids really begin
to claim the respect and dignity owed to them as members of Colombian society;
even if they’re poor, and even if their families are internally displaced refugees. I have
witnessed them take ownership of ideas and create poetry, songs and art that make
some sense of the everyday poverty and violence in their lives. I have seen them
challenge the status quo by unabashedly naming the problems endemic in their community and
seeking straight answers from local authorities in interviews that left me amazed
and humbled. And I have watched them just play like the children they are, at recess or
on group outings, forgetting everything else just for a few minutes or hours, in a safe
place where they can just be kids.
My name is Angélica Barrera Bolívar or “coco” (nickname), I am 19 years old and currently studying Psychology at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá.
My interests include art, dance, and research in gender studies. I started with Taller de Paz a year ago, due to a sign-up e-mail that I was sent. I later joined the foundation in order to work with other students to encourge and empower the youth of Suba.
My experience with the project has mostly been through the Art Workshop, which aims to generate creative and interprative skills through art as a non-violent medium of expression. This has fostered in me a strong committment to dealing with the problems that surround my country and the children of my city.
In the coming year, I will be a senior at Swarthmore College, finishing my major in Political Science and minor in Spanish. As interesting or not that that might be as it relates to Taller de Paz, what is really most important to me is the strong community that has been created by this project and which has continued to grow through it.
If we live in a world as hostile as Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan where we even lock our doors among friends, then finding those small pockets where those doors have been opened wide is nearly impossible.
If also, as Marx wrote in the German Ideology, “only in community with others has each individual the means of cultivating [their] gifts in all directions”, then those spaces are invaluable in which all members have agreed to support and encourage the others in the best way they can. In this way, the energy, the knowledge, and the hope that is needed to peacefully and creatively resist all of that which holds us back, reduces and diminishes us, and oppresses our inherent positivity becomes possible.
The perspective of a wide-eyed US college student-activist, as is mine, has often seemed incongruous to me. On one hand I can see everything because I have nearly infinite access to the information the world has to offer, namely in the academic sense of the word; and yet, at the same time I can know very little because this information is at best secondhand. Added to this, the sheer number of problems in the world that need serious attention is enough to paralyze even the greatest of minds. Then when mixed with the viral quietism of our “postmodern” society, allowing for injustices to pass outside (and inside) our immediate sphere of influence, can easily go unquestioned.
Its at this point that I turn to Jean-Paul Sarte who in his defense of existentialism wrote that “There is no reality except in action.” As humans we have created the reality which is the world today and it will be the responsibility of no one but us to forge the reality which will be our tomorrow. Taller de Paz is therefore my action, my community, and my opening of locked doors. In Gandhi’s words, it is my opportunity to “be the change I wish to see in the world.” The workshops, the kids, the family, the other facilitators, our partners, and our supporters are my hope for the future of inter-national, inter-cultural, and inter-personal relations.