Medellin: Aiming towards a more peaceful community, CISVers in Colombia worked towards better integration between rural and urban children through self-expression. Sebastien Caro, an 11 year old from the village of Lejos del Nido describes himself:
I am the fish swimming in the river of mercy.
I am the river that comes from the birth of tenderness.
I am the tree in the garden of love.
I am the air that flows from the heart.
I am the water of life.
Sebastien was among the 30 boys and girls who participated in the project at the Laboratoria del Spiritu(Cultural Center and Laboratory of the Spirit). The kids were asked to express themselves using poetry, inspired by the natural beauty found around them. Through their writings, they communicated their differences in a safe environment (discover), were able to appreciatethe diversity that exists among them (understand), all the while coming upwith timeless and moving pieces of poetry (create).
Another dimension of the project involved a collection of books, which had been very successful, making the final count 120 and the children involved had woven a total of 30 backpacks. The “traveling backpacks”, as they came to be named, each carried 4 differently themed books as well as a blank notebook and were sent to two villages: Pantalio and Lejos del Nido.
The final day of the Mosaic was marked by the meeting between families from both villages in the community center, at which point the “traveling backpacks” were distributed amongst them. The Florez Bedoya family concluded the project by expressing their gratitude with the following words:
“Thanks to those who wanted to promote this project, reading in our homes, this is a key part in our lives, as well as the importance it represents for our children, since we do not have the opportunity to have the variety of books that you provide for us, either according to our tastes or our needs.”
There are many important lessons to take from such a great Mosaic, but the one that got my attention the most was the importance of ideas. It’s the basis of why we as CISVers - partaking in a Mosaic project - do the things we do. In order to ensure the sustainability of our work, to make real changes in the world, we need to go above and beyond just physically acting. By altering perceptions and changing the way people think, we’re making the world a better place. Ideas, in the end, are contagious. And seeding one simple concept in one person’s mind can mean a change for so many. In Medellin, the CISVers of Colombia did just that. They not only taught the participants how to think about themselves and the world around them, but they also encouraged them to build on what they had learned and to further expand their horizons.