Exchange Experience Ibague- Medellin (Highs and Lows)

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The trajectory from Ibague to Medellin was 11 hours long including traffic, land rich with entrepreneurs, and people known for being friendly and good conversationalists.  The purpose of this visit for myself and the youth leader from the church Semillas de Esperanza, Leidy Gamboa, was to learn about the ecclesial, educational and peace building processes that my fellow Seeder, Simon Martinez, has been accompanying in his work with the Mennonite Brethren church Manantial de Paz in Medellin and the association of churches Santuarios de Paz.  Here below are the highs and lows of this exchange experience.

Lighting candles that represent peace.

Lighting candles that represent peace.

Highs:

  • La Mennonite Brethren Church Manantial de Paz works with teenagers in an educational center called La Milagrosa. They work on topics such as analyzing social problems and peace building.
  • La Ecumenical Table for Peace is an initiative of churches and organizations of different Christian denominations, whose point of intersection is seeking peace with social justice in the midst of the armed conflict in order to produce reflection, thinking and actions that have social implications.
  • The mayor of Medellin along with the Churches Santuarios de Paz (ISPA) during the month of May celebrated “May for Life” with a series of activities in favor of peace and life, giving a clear message against the armed conflict. These events culminated with a “White Night” event which mobilized diverse social actors, the ecclesial sector and politicians in a march through the city and a ceremony where diverse representatives from religious groups promised respect and to strive for an integral peace from their varying contexts.
  • The quality and friendliness of the citizens of Medellin was characterized by their happiness, their particular way of speaking and their business entrepreneurship.
Representatives from different religious groups commit themselves to peace. (Photo: Leidy Gamboa)

Representatives from different religious groups commit themselves to peace. (Photo: Leidy Gamboa)

Lows:

  • The teenage educational center program in development by the Church Manantial de Paz has few people supporting its process.
  • The diverse places of drug sales in the streets of Medellin increase the delinquency and the power of armed groups in the city.
  • The insecurity due to theft and assaults in some streets on the way to Medellin such as the streets that border the central market of the city intimidate pedestrians.
  • Crime in the city attracts the interest of many youth who are influenced negatively by easy money.

 

Translated by Kelly Lempa

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