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Calle Quibdó and the voices of the new leaderships

hon Fredy Ortiz Asprilla is a 29-year-old inhabitant of the Calle Quibdó community and a member of the Semillas Negras youth organization. He is currently studying business administration and is in his tenth semester. She recognizes that accessing higher education in Quibdó was especially difficult because she did not have economic resources, but despite this, she says that it has been a rewarding process and a lot of learning. In 2020 she began her journey through the paths of community leadership "I envisioned myself as a leader of the community to see what I could contribute and how I could change many things that were not working well" so she was the legal representative of the Local Community Council of Calle Quibdó. His words and actions show a strong sense of belonging to his community, about which he remembers his beginnings. According to his relatives, Calle Quibdó was formed by ten families and with the passage of time people arrived from other villages, many of the first settlers have already passed away, but Jhon Fredy highlights the importance of the elders who are still alive and who are a significant source of knowledge "they teach us many things, one of them is a midwife, she knows how to cure parasites, the evil eye and they try to teach the children so that they also learn about traditional medicine".

The community has experienced great changes throughout its history, geographically its inhabitants state that the river was narrow, but due to overflows, the community has been forced to move their homes deeper into the jungle, although they have tried to seek support from the Mayor's Office and Codechocó, they have not been able to find a solution to this problem, as it is considered that it could have a considerable environmental impact. In this way, Jhon Fredy identifies additional risks such as the disturbance of public order due to the presence of armed actors in the community sporadically, the poor conditions of bridges, which have generated falls, with the aggravating factor of the lack of a health center or health post in the community.

Peace and the improvement of the living conditions of communities are forged with access to quality education, which is why, on International Education Day, it is important to rescue the call to "learn for lasting peace". In the case of the community of Calle Quibdó, Jhon Fedy considers that tools are needed for teachers, recognizing that this has generated an important gap "when we leave the rural countryside to the urban area, we feel very disadvantaged compared to the children and young people who study there". Jhon Fredy is aware that education is a right, but the community feels abandoned and does not feel that the institutions fulfill their needs. Reflecting, he affirms that "education is important for the children and youth of Calle Quibdó because it allows us as adults to improve their conditions, it allows them to have knowledge that will help them to perform in any area of society".

Undoubtedly, education plays a fundamental role not only in the consolidation of peace in nations and in each of the territories, but also contributes to the construction of more inclusive and equitable societies "through education, vulnerable populations are diverted from the different criminal paths that exist, and it helps us to evolve as people. Whenever a person is educated, it helps to improve living conditions, not only for him or her, but also for society. I strongly believe it helps a lot to improve gender equality conditions, of course it also helps to break cycles of poverty."

Although the young people recognize the lack of response and educational offerings in their community, they have promoted initiatives and actions through the youth organization Semillas Negras, which promotes different artistic expressions among the children and adolescents of Calle Quibdó "the way in which we develop educational actions is through different arts such as music, sculpture, theater, literature, dance and painting which are carried out in the different plantations with the sowers who help us voluntarily to put it into practice".

Regarding the construction of peace in the community, Jhon Fredy emphasizes that it is complicated despite the fact that the leaders generate spaces for the inhabitants to learn about the types of violence, how to prevent it, and that this goes beyond the armed conflict, because it is evident in the families "to have a communal peace process we must all be working together to achieve it, but sometimes there is a lot of indisposition", alluding this lack of interest to the lack of education of adults in their community, so as leaders they have begun to promote spaces for children who are recognized as a source of reflection for their parents.

It is perceived that, for many years, Calle Quibdó was in anonymity, but today various leaders such as Cocco Kilele, Jhon Fredy and other young people who follow in their footsteps stand out, even fathers and mothers motivate their sons and daughters to participate in activities organized by Semillas Negras "there is a lot of youth participation, which is important for the community and society".

Calle Quibdó is a community that has immense capacities among which Jhon Fredy highlights forgiveness and reconciliation "we seek communication to resolve through dialogue and solve adversities" evidencing the sense of union in the community and the leadership capacity among its members.

Semillas Negras hopes that, in the future, the young participants will have clarity about what they want, they hope to build with them the basis for a better future, to rescue the youth from harmful factors found in the environment. They know that through Mae Kiwe Intercultural they can have an impact on decision makers "to create awareness among government entities about the forgotten populations that need help, it is a right that must be guaranteed to the community, we hope that through Mae Kiwe we can generate awareness and articulate so that young people can participate in advocacy spaces".

With the support of Julieth Pacheco, communications coordinator of War Child.

Photos by Michael Jessurun

About the projec

The project "Mae Kiwe Intercultural: Building Bridges and Fostering Intersectional Learning to Boost Safe and Meaningful Peacebuilding and Political Participation of Afro-descendant and Indigenous Young Women and Men in Colombia" is funded by the United Nations Secretary General's Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) and aims to forge and strengthen a protective social and political environment in which young people from Afro-descendant and indigenous communities, especially young women, participate and influence peace and decision-making processes alongside and in cooperation with local and regional government institutions, and are protected from the serious risks and violations associated with civic participation and advocacy.


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