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.
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.
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.|
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.|