This journey began crossing borders and time zones; re-establishing the value of human-appointed currency while greetings pass through handshakes and kisses on cheeks. Seeing this all for the first time I am speechless in the face of poverty yet awed by the smiling faces that greet me through every door . There is a bond between the people and their land; one that desires identity through community and relationship.
We spent three peaceful nights at a farm run by Sambrandopaz where we learnt about the hardships of peasant farmers in an environment where armed conflict threatens their lives. We visited the village of Pichelyn, a community that has experienced massacres and displacement. They spoke about the mind of a community as they work together to make their town beautiful again.
I have not seen complacency here, no idleness, no wasted days.
Speaking as an outsider to Colombia, a third party if you will, a tendency of mine is to see one party as good and the other as evil (the average colombian citizen and farmers vs arms groups and corporations). Being faced with the reality of these two sides makes the humanization of both parties possible encouraging more empathy and understanding than there was previously. I’ve been caught in a mindset of solutions yet quickly realizing that I can solve nothing.. and perhaps I’m not meant to.
It has been the mission of MCC and their partners in the region to combat the cycle of violence that has interrupted this country for decades. Many of the leaders we encountered had the same hope of reconciliation, crafting ideas and ways in which forgiveness can be made possible and communities can begin healing themselves. Miroslav Volf captures the vicious cycle of violence perfectly when he says, “In addition to infliction harm, the practice of evil keeps re-creating a world without innocence. Evil generates new evil as evildoers fashion victims in their own ugly image.”
Our group was taught that a community needs two wings and two feet, like a bird, before it can fly. Organizations like Sambrandopaz are in place to bridge the gaps between communities, finding opportunities for them and their leaders to grow through networking and team-building. There will be struggles and there will be successes both existing to braid the fabric of a future built on hard work, perseverance and unity.
This image of hope is painted beautiful with a thousand strokes of the brush held by a thousand different hands. I don’t understand how it is all possible yet but I am inspired by the possibility of hope for the Colombian nation and also for my country.