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Youth advocacy pathway: art and sport

Yojan Pazu is a 29-year-old Nasa indigenous youth. He lives in the village of La Esperanza, in the Jambaló reservation of the Global Project life plan. He currently has technical studies in systems, business administration, ancestral arts and physical education. He mentions that access to higher education was especially difficult, since public universities are located in large cities, but despite this, he managed to complete several studies that are a source of satisfaction for him.

He began his journey along the path of leadership when he was still a teenager, and emphasizes that the Marden Arnulfo Betancur Educational Institution - INEMAB awakened his spirit of leadership, "INEMAB school has a community approach, which allowed me to strengthen my leadership, in the school good leaders have been formed". This is how in 2011 he joined the Álvaro Ulcue Chocué youth movement, to which he currently belongs. In 2018 he assumed the coordination of the youth program of the Jambaló Resguardo, and then, in 2020, the ancestral authorities endorsed him for two more years, thus ending his term in June 2023. He mentions that the Jambaló Youth Program began to have an impact in 1987 as a response of resistance of the Nasa people of Jambaló to the problems presented in the territory such as massacres, socio-political violence, domestic violence, homicides, terraje and political division, among others. Yojan emphasizes that these disharmonies affected the entire community, especially young people, "There were many youth problems such as alcoholism, family violence, armed conflict violence and school dropouts, these situations prompted the creation of the youth program at the local, zonal and regional levels". In this way, it identifies additional risks at the local level, such as youth recruitment, planting of illicit crops, consumption of psychoactive substances, among other disharmonies.

During the time Yojan coordinated the youth program, he deployed various artistic-cultural strategies aimed at caring for territorial harmony and preserving the collective memory, "In the years I was coordinator, I carried out two mural mingas in the territory, the murals that you see in the territory were done by us, because the murals are stories told that represent the meanings of the place". He describes painting as a process of vindication and spiritual and emotional connection with himself and with the history of his ancestors, "painting allows us to freely express what we cannot do".

In addition to this, he has led recreational-recreational projects of great social impact on children, adolescents and young people in his community, such as the Christmas indoor soccer tournament that has become a tradition for the community, and the creation of the artistic group "Estrellas de Esperanza" (Stars of Hope), now under a different name. Yojan recognizes that his leadership has been complex, he has had to face situations that have made him rethink his leadership process, as he has suffered indirect threats from armed groups that oppose the community's organizational process.

The youth program hopes that, in the future, the young participants of the Mae Kiwe Intercultural project will have political and organizational clarity. It hopes that the project will strengthen the work they have been developing since 1987, "to have young people who are leaders and aware of their life plan, with spiritual and community autonomy, dreamers, critics, analytical and propositional, thinkers and makers of their own dreams". 

With the support of Vanessa Noscue, protection and gender officer of War Child in Cauca.

Photos by Julieth Pachecho and Hugo Rincón.

About the project

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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