Peacebuilding Workshop and Spring Flowers

On Sunday, Jake and I attended a workshop in San Luis in which local leaders conducted activities to help reconstruct the social fabric in their villages.  These villages were some of the hardest hit during the violence between the FARC and paramilitaries.  In fact, many of the villagers had been falsely accused of being members of the FARC simply because they happened to live in a place the FARC controlled. The most heartbreaking interviews we do are with the innocent people – many of whom stood up to the FARC and organized locally for peace – who relate stories of being harassed, physically abused and in some cases having loved ones killed by the Colombian army’s soldiers, the very people who were supposed to protect them. 

The first activity of the day gave people the opportunity to rank how they were feeling on a scale of one to five and to assign a color to their emotion.  Most people ran to the number five, leapt in the air, and assigned a bright color to their emotion.


 A few women placed themselves at a lower ranking and did not leap in the air, indicating that they were feeling down.  One woman started crying immediately and all the attendees gave her a group hug.  She didn’t want to explain why she was sad, but I assumed that she was one of the many widows left from the civil conflict in this area.  Her two sons also attended the workshop and were adorable. 


Group hug and sharing of good energy for the woman who was crying.  Notice her two sons on the left side of the picture.  Adorable.

The group also had the opportunity to place post-it notes under other emotions, ranking them on a scale of one to five.  The community then discussed how and why they ranked certain emotions the way they did.  It was an interesting activity to facilitate conversation about their fears.  We learned that their main fear was the possibility that violence would one day return.


Post-it note ranking the “Alegria” or “Happiness” level of members of the community.


Thinking about how to rank a particular emotion…


“Tranquilidad” (Tranquility), “Confianza Institucional” (Trust in Institutions), and “Alegría.” The top of the picture is for 5, where those feeling the emotion strongly put their squares. The bottom is for 1.


Ps. On a lighter note, today is a “dia festivo” or a “holiday” thanks to some saint here in Colombia.  Right now Jake and I are having a glass of wine while our dinner roasts.   I am feeling appreciative of the beautiful view from our 7th story balcony.  We just saw the parrots fly by and feed and there is a beautiful tree below us that blossomed recently. The photo below is dedicated to those of you still enduring snow in the United States.  


Medellin is the city of the eternal spring. I guess it’s a good year to be here!



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