In the US, a place I still call home, we often celebrate the start of a new year by pausing to remember the past year that has ended and name wishes or goals for the new year that is spread out before us. Although we are well into the year 2017, a year full of hope for many of our brother and sisters in Colombia, it’s worth pausing for a minute to remember the stories we have read during the past cycle of Seed blogs.
As we begin a new year of many expectations, we pause to give thanks to our different brothers and sisters living in communities in different parts of the country who’s stories we have heard. We give thanks for the recent freedom of some community leaders in the Magdalena Medio. We feel the hope transmitted in the stories from communities in Soacha, as well as the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, that despite years of violence, the spirit of forgiveness, the desire for a future of peaceful communities, remains strong in both the young and old generations. We pray for farmers and community members affected by widespread flooding in Chocó, who must carry on with life. We give thanks for these stories, stories of people who have been victims, but who refuse to only be identified as such, who continue walking forward, building a better Colombia for themselves, their families, and their neighbors.
A moment that sticks in my mind from the past few months is the image of a Colombia map after the plebiscite in October. The map broke down the yes and no vote percentages, per department and even municipalities. I clicked through the map, looking at different municipalities that had been most affected by the conflict. Overwhelmingly, this map showed that the many rural regions of Colombia, affected most by decades of violence and displacement, communities torn apart but still surviving, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the peace accords between the FARC and government. What this tells me is the ongoing spirit of forgiveness and the hope for a bright future that exists in the hearts of those victimized by the conflict. But this is only part of the story. During the same year, I have heard many stories of people who voted against the referendum, that felt like it wasn’t the path they wanted to follow. But these same people, also victims, echoed the call for peace, a call to mend the social fabric that had been torn in so many communities, to change destructive social dynamics and strive for a prosperous future.
I am constantly amazed by the resilience of my Colombian brothers and sisters, many of whom consider themselves victims, but also consider themselves people moving forward. We give thanks for the stories of these people.