We are true believers that it is possible to impact
positively on the community we live in. Even though is not easy some times,
with the right help it is possible, we have seen it… we have even taken
part of it. It’s us locals doing something for the community we live
in, an opportunity to give instead of just take.
This project has all been a joint effort between the local Mosaic
coordinators, an International Peoples Project and our partner organization, the School of Community Justice of the National University of Colombia.
The theme was community justice through social networking, and it was developed in two phases (one that took place between October 2009
and January 2010 another that began in February until
Given the turbulent past and present of a country like Colombia, it
is understandable how alternative methods of conflict resolution fit in
any given community in the country. The School for Community Justice
strives to support the communities in need by providing them with the
knowledge and skills to resolve their own conflicts without having to go
to use the court system or to engage with illegal armed groups.
By their framework, conflicts are seen as an opportunity to postively
change people's behaviour, which results in the transformation of
society. A perspective that CISV also shares. In this sense,
the whole idea of the School of Community Justice is not only to give
the community the tools to find a solution to certain situations but to
generate in the different actors the capacity to understand each other’s
needs and interests. This means putting aside the idea of conflict as
an obstacle, to see it as an opportunity for moral growth and
transformation, which ultimately transforms social relations. Managed
properly, conflict can lead to the development of mutual respect and
consideration, it can give confidence and self-determination, and it can
improve the way we interact with others.
The chosen place was Arauca, a state located in eastern Colombia
next to the border with Venezuela. This isolated community opened their
arms and hearts and homes to the School for Community Justice and later
to our Mosaic project.
Our group is from the capital city of Colombia, Bogota, and in many
ways, we are isolated from the rest of the country. When we were told we
would travel to Arauca our first thoughts were of conflict, guerrillas
and paramilitaries. But a few short days there were enough to realise
that this is an area like any other in Colombia: They have suffered
through conflict and still do but they are people with infinite hopes
and happiness. They are people who want to change the negative
image of the place where they live. People who have faith and believe
that tomorrow their country will be a better place.
On behalf of the project coordinators, we can say that between
ourselves and the community it felt like love at first sight. We shared hope and the belief in their community and in our country. We
felt privileged to be observers and to learn about how they solve their
own conflicts, taking into consideration their social norms and how they
manage to keep up the friendship ties within the community in a
historically violent region. At the same time, we were very happy and
eager to share our experiences, and CISV activities related to peace
construction and prejudices. Our small contribution in this huge process
was to share some of the spirit and educational tools
of CISV. We are proud that through this partnership we have introduced
the theme of Community Justice to our youth participants and we have
encouraged community members in Arauca to take part in the meaningful
work of the School of Community Justice.
One of the most inspiring moments was the planning and implementation
of a weekend workshop with young people from the four towns in Arauca,
participants of the International Peoples Project and the staff from the
School of Community justice around the theme of conflict resolution.
So far we can say we have discovered the realities of a stigmatized zone in our country, we have understood that community justice, as an alternative mechanism of conflict resolution,
is a feasible way to achieve a peaceful society and we continue to work
toward the challenge of creating activities that will help
members of our own communities (in CISV and beyond) to become more
active local citizens by supporting and contributing to the peace
culture in Colombia!