Death cannot be a daily occurrence

تم النشر: 20 نوفمبر 2014 3:34 CET


By Carlos Alban, Communication Coordinator, Colombian Red Cross, Valle del Cauca Branch.

Representatives of over 70 National Societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent visited the community of Potrero Grande to see first-hand how Colombian Red Cross is partnering to increase community resilience.

East of the city of Santiago de Cali, is Potrero Grande, a place full of hope, where hundreds of community mothers and youths believe that life is possible. This is the same area occupied by 35,000 inhabitants displaced by armed conflict and situations of violence and where the media constantly registers murders or clashes between gangs, to mention some of the recent headlines that come to mind. The neighbourhood is divided into 12 sectors and the number of invisible borders that determine who comes and who goes from one place to another are unknown.

In the middle of this context is the Potrero Grande Public School, where some 1,400 students shared their accomplishments with the visiting participants from the Global Community Resilience Forum. The visitors were surprised by synergy between the community and the volunteers, the social capital being generated and also how the initiative works between the public and the private sector as well as the government’s commitment to make this possible. Nonetheless it is clear that there is still a long road ahead.

This school has 30 peace mediators who together with the school brigades, guided the participants on the visit to the school campus. They shared their experiences learning to mediate conflicts in their school where 6 years ago Yasmin Cuesta their professor began planting the seed of peace in the hearts of her students. Yasmin’s or the “teach” is driven by her desire to not let death become a daily occurrence, to promote respect for life inside and outside the classroom.

The biggest challenge is to reduce stigma and discrimination experienced by the members of this and other communities. In fact the experience of the forum’s participants has shown that there is a different story in Potrero Grande. There are good people as the professor says who are fighting so that death does not become a daily occurrence. This is what the community members must understand so that they open their doors to neighbours near and far, because they have shown they are a resilient community and this is precisely what the Red Cross and Red Crescent participants have seen during this unforgettable visit.