“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for new and richer experience” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
Peace building is something that I learnt from the theoretical perspective but I have always wanted to learn it from the practical point of view so I could gain experience.
Two years ago, I was highly privileged to participate in the seed program-Colombia; part of my job was to accompany the ongoing community peace building processes. I was honored to live with the Afro-Colombian the people that were displaced 17 years ago on the Caribbean coast, north of Colombia.
In as much as I was there to accompany the community in these peace processes, I felt like I was the one learning or receiving more from them because I learnt the peace building processes from the grass root level. For example, sharing food with my neighbours, doing exsercise with the women, learning how to cook typical Colombia food, going to church as well as teaching English in the community and participating in the community s ongoing peace building meetings with people from different communities and organizations (both local and international organizations). I also learnt that peace building is not something that can be built overnight but it’s a gradual process which requires patient, wisdom and knowledge.
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures” – John F Kennedy
Apart from community accompaniment, there are also times where being a seeder was just very exciting and adventurous in the sense that I had a chance of learning new things like speaking the language (Spanish) , trying different foods like rice with coconut, sewing tapestries ( this is the women’s project), as well as meeting new people.
One exciting and unforgettable moment I had during the seed program was to accompany the community in a meeting with other communities in the Montes de Maria and greet the president of Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos. It was so joyous to hear him welcoming me to his country and encouraging me to keep up with the good work of peace building work in Colombia.
“Sometimes we might not realize that we are somehow sowing a seed in our work but we can only realize that a few years after we leave”
My seed experience has also shaped me to be a strong person and I have learnt to embrace and solve challenges as they come and I also look at them as a stepping stone to the future. My experience has also helped me to learn something positive out of some of the most challenging situations that occurred during my two years of service.
Being a seeder means pouring your heart to serve the people and be willing to be served and learn all you can from the entire experience.
“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are” – Hafsat Abiola