Wednesday, December 9, 2015

ProFILE, Retreat #4

This past weekend was the fourth and final ProFILE retreat for 2015. We finished the retreat Monday evening graduating 19 leaders, with another 5 who were unable to be at the retreat, but will graduate as well. But I am getting ahead of myself. ProFILE is a leadership formation series, I have blogged about the other three here: ProFILE #1ProFILE #2, and ProFILE #3. To keep with the the theme of the other blogs, this final blog will also be though photos.

One of the goals of ProFILE was to have each retreat in a different region of the regions of Colombia where IELCO has a presence. To keep with that goal, this final retreat was in Trinidad, in the region Llanos (about 11 hours bus ride from Bogota).

The theme for this retreat was the "Biblical - Theological Principles of Leadership". Pastor Atahualpa was the main presenter for the retreat. The whole retreat was based around the book of Jonah using different techniques to read and understand the text. In every activity we used different medians, including the crown you see above to talk about how the king felt after hearing what Jonah was saying....what made him mandate the whole city to repent? We asked other questions like how do they think the other sailors on the boat felt (hence the skull and cross-bone in the upper right photo).

Another activity was giving each participant a footprint to write what reaction they thought the people in Nineveh had when they heard Jonah's message. We used fish cutouts to talk about Jonah in the belly of the fish, and why God would have sent the fish. Anna-Bella (Pastor Edwin's daughter) is here helping me tape up the footprints.

Another activity was writing a song (in small groups). This is a video, of one of the songs written. Don't forget to turn your volume up. 

Because this was the last retreat for the group, we made sure to have some down time. There is a river within walking distance of the church, so part of the group went swimming while the rest of us watched and ate ice cream. The children of Pastor Edwin (pastor in Trinidad) as well as the children of Pastor Atahualpa were around (and even participating in some of the activities). In the upper left photo is Henry and his wife Elisa (who was so impressed with everything she saw this weekend she is hoping to join ProFILE for 2016)...the parrot she is holding is a wild parrot that was hanging around. 

We closed the retreat Monday evening with the graduation ceremony (and then the bus ride back to Bogota, arriving Tuesday morning). The participants all received a 'diploma' stating they finished all the requirements of ProFILE as well as participating in the 120 hours (wow) of retreat time throughout the year. I think I can safely say that as the Education Office of IELCO, Pastor Atahualpa, Zulma and I are all very please with this group of people, the work they have done, and the work we know they will continue to do! Way to go ProFILE group of 2015!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Planning Processes and New Communities

In the last year I have had the opportunity to understand both the context of human rights work in Colombia and more specifically the context of IELCO (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia) in working for human rights. The role I can play has been more deeply defined throughout many conversations with the people of IELCO about their dreams, fears and experiences regarding human rights.
A main park in the city of Medellin, the art on the ground is to remember all women who have disappeared
and/or experienced sexual violence during the conflict. Curtis, John and Ivonne looking at the  memorial. 
Photo by Katie.
A few of months ago I started a consultation process, asking all of the congregations of IELCO how they would like to work with the human rights program for the next year (2016). Through this process, five congregations were chosen to be accompanied throughout the year, and each congregation will be focusing on different human rights themes. This will be done through a unique series of workshops at all five congregations (based on the theme chosen by the congregation), the creation of materials such as guides and manuals for the local congregation to continue teaching the theme, as well as an asset-mapping process to help each local community define for themselves their own strengths and resources to develop their capacity to work for the protection and promotion of human rights.

Some of the themes chosen for next year will be: The bible and human rights; Transformation of conflicts and political advocacy; Community justice; the rights of the child; and the right to education.

Artwork by Fernando Botero, Colombia's most famous artist and citizen of Medellin. His artwork is always of 
over-sized people, animals, things.  On the left is a dove (representing peace) that was blown up by a bomb 
during the most violent days of the conflict in Medellin. On the right is a replication of the original. The city 
decided to keep them both together in a park to remember the history. Photo by Yvonne Rosenstand.
The process started by reaching out to all pastors and presidents of congregations and asking them to talk to their members and decide on a theme. After they got back to me with a theme, they then decided on how they would like the human rights program to accompany them (workshops, advocacy, materials, other activities, etc.). After the theme and type of accompaniment was decided, I then met with the congregation to make everything concrete: what will be the objective to be reached by the end of 2016, what are the dates for activities, who will be participating (from inside and from outside the congregation), as well as just getting to know the hopes of the people.

This last weekend, the 28th and 29th of November, I finished the planning process with the last of the five congregations. It was actually my first time visiting the community in Medellin (the second largest city in Colombia), and was a fantastic way to start the relationship.

Pastor John Hernandez, a constant and solid supporter of my work and of the human rights program, had done a great amount of preparation and the process was very strong.

Pastor John Hernandez leading the service on Sunday. Photo by Katie. 
The Comuna 13, is a neighborhood of Medellin that has a sad history of violence and drug trafficking, as well as a history of community led non-violent resistance and organizing for peace. Pastor John took us to visit a youth group from the Comuna (Commune, used to divide the city, almost like councils in the U.S.) called Judah, that focuses on art and creativity. The members of this youth group shared some of their experiences living in the Comuna and their work of using art as a form of resistance, of recording the truth and promoting justice. We then had a small workshop about human rights and the bible and invited them to participate in the process next year.

Meeting with the planning group from the church, making all the plans for next year. Photo by Katie.
After the service on Sunday, I met with a group from the church to plan out next year in detail. This group showed an enchanting excitement to get involved in human rights issues. They especially wanted to focus on those that are most vulnerable in Medellin, and ultimately decided to focus initially on human rights more generally, and later in the year, on the right to education.

Afterwards, Pastor John, with his family, took us around the city of Medellin to see it a little more, know some more of its history, and enjoy the much warmer climate, compared to Bogota. 

Pastor John and Yvonne (his wife) at the festival of lights, an annual Christmas celebration in Medellin. We were told not to miss it. Photo by Karina Rosenstand.