Today I want to share with you how I have lived and experienced what it means to be a Seeder.
2016 was a very important year for me, as I began a new stage in my life. I say it that way because from the moment when I got on a plane in Cali, Valle del Cauca, leaving my family and friends wasn’t easy; the truth is that I didn’t know the journey that was awaiting me.
In South Africa, where we had the orientation with the Congo Seed team, the first day when I arrived was really great since there were people from different parts of the world with whom we were building and weaving relationships little by little. The best part was that, despite being from different cultures and countries, we were all together with one common purpose.
The different topics shared in the orientation were very important for me. I remember that one of the first was MCC’s vision and everything they do in the world. By Bonnie Klassen, peace theology by Mulanda Jumma, and other speakers that shared on topics like: trauma, resiliency, reconciliation, retributive justice, restorative justice, advocacy, among others.
I was really impacted by the history of the South African people, their struggles, tests and the sorrows they passed through with segregation, or Apartheid, in areas like Soweto and by seeing how a leader like Nelson Mandela rose up and guided his people, desolated by war and hate. He fought for the people’s civil rights, and in the end, after everything, they negotiated peace and it was achieved. Peace is always possible.
Mandela taught forgiving your enemies; he taught sitting down with your enemies.
The time arrived to travel to Bogotá, Colombia in order to continue learning about this whole process, and that’s what happened. It’s not easy to enter a new environment where the culture is different than where you come from but in which little by little you adjust to the idea that you are there and that you have to continue on the new path ahead of you.
From my new house to the MCC office where we would meet with the Seeders and facilitators to study different topics about the Colombian context and be introduced to the daily life of the Colombian people, a nation that has always been marked by all types of violence, but, despite all of this, there are tireless, courageous people living in the different cities and communities: fathers, mothers, children that get up early every day to carry out their different work activities and put food on the table for their families.
After a few months in Bogotá, I went to the Caribbean Coast, more precisely to Sincelejo, Sucre with the organization Sembrandopaz, where they carry out different projects with the communities that facilitate building the values of a culture of peace through the configuration and consolidation of grassroots organizations with the purpose of supporting processes for comprehensive development.
I’m now living in a community called Libertad in the San Onofre municipality, Sucre. It’s a majority Afro-descendent community located only 10 minutes from the ocean and inhabited by approximately five thousand people working in agriculture and artisanal fishing. It is a Caribbean community that was hit by violence and that calls itself resilient because they were not displaced but rather endured the cruelty and barbarity of paramilitary violence.
Living in this community, with all of these people surrounding me, has been very impactful, enriching and satisfactory since the moment I arrived. Seeing the kindness, happiness, friendship, struggles, challenges and simplicity that characterizes them is extremely important because, despite everything they have gone through, they welcome you with much love and respect.
In general this entire year was filled with many challenges, with ups and downs, with fears of the contexts of the processes, with happiness and learning, unique moments which I have enjoyed and made the most of in order to examine myself and ask myself questions. I have learned to be grateful for my life, to enjoy and respect small actions and moments of socializing with the people, walking together towards the reality that we live and work every day.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Romans 14:19 NIV