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Station: Colombia, September 2009

„La Paz Cuenta“: Exhibit in Bogotá, Colombia and workshops for „multipliers“

This September, the exhibit „Peacebuilders around the World“ was displayed for four weeks in the Bogotá (the capital of Colombia) public library “La Tinta.“ The Library, which was built on top of an old garbage dump, has become a cultural center and place of learning for the people of the surrounding districts and slums.

Over the past two weeks, Jasna Bastic, Anne Romund (Institute for Peace Education) and Tilman Wörtz (Zeitenspeigel Agency/ Peace Counts Project) conducted the journalistic and peace educational workshops that accompanied the exhibit on location. Workshops were geared towards representatives of womens rights and youth organizations, educators, students, and community leaders. Mediators from a school for girls and the Municipality, and employees of local NGOs were also among the participants.

Workshops focused on exchanging personal concepts of peace, analysing of the dynamics of conflict escalation, and discussing possibilities for deescalation as well as the question of necessary characteristics and abilities for peace makers. The exhibit was presented in the English language, however, visitors recieved handouts containing a Spanish translation of the exhibits texts. Additionally, a poster version of the exhibit in Spanish was displayed on the premises where the workshops were held. 

The 120 participants in the program found the methods and content of the workshops to be beneficial to their own work. These positive evaluations, in addition to the numerous requests for the materials used during the workshop (such as the IFT’s boxed materials on the topic of „conflict culture“ and „stories of conflict“) evidence the program’s success. Many indicated a desire to make use of the materials in their own work—particularly in schools and the training of the members of their organizations.

In addition to this, due to the occasion of Bogotás Week of Peace (Semana por la Paz), the the program was integrated into the wide array of activites organized by our colombian partner organizations. The „peace counts“ project team, was thus able to take part in the „March Against Fear“ (jornada contra el miedo), in which youth from the surrounding slums (potosi/ciudad bolivar) demonstrated against the violence and intimidation of the guerillas—druming and chanting as they marched through the streets.

At the street festival „Septimazo,“  thousands of of passers-by were able to admire the exhibit on Carrera Septima (Bogotás main street) and converse with the members of the Peace Counts Team. 

A visit to Sumapaz—a mountain village on the outskirts of Bogotá surrounded by Military posts—offered an opportunity to interact with farmers who live there and have continually been threatened and had their reputation blemished by accusations of being involved in guerilla activities.

Columbia represents the seventh station of Peace Counts on Tour. Key partners of the campaign were „Bread for the World.“ Local partners include Fundación PODION, la Asamblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la Paz, la Alianza, Plataforma DESC and CCEEU. Peace Counts on Tour is sponsored by the Foreign Affairs Agency and the zivik sponsorship program of the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA.)

In May the project was distinguished by the University of Marburg with the Peter Becker Prize for Peace Research and Conflict Management.

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