Timely because of our own recent updates and project work from Colombia, this story from the Miami Herald, personalizes the impact of the half-century old civil conflict and how critical it is that the country succeed in the current peace negotiations.

Central to the story, are the first-hand accounts of victims of the violence and their ongoing optimism and inspiration in seeking peace and forgiveness with the perpetrators of such violence. Sourced for the story is our partner in Bogotá, Fr. Leonel Narváez who has made it his life’s work to try and heal his nation by “eradicating the virus of hatred and desire for revenge.” Fr. Leonel gives perspective for the challenges to the peace process by citing his own experiences in the work done at the Foundation for Reconciliation, which has provided psychological counseling to more than 600,000 Colombians affected by the conflict. From the Herald piece:

[quote] A victimizer is never going to ask for forgiveness if he’s not in a safe environment where he knows that he won’t be punished excessively. If the FARC recognize their crimes and ask for forgiveness before the peace process is complete, they may pay too high of a price. But I believe that we’ll reach a moment where they will have to ask for forgiveness. Narávez said that in his experience, victims don’t need an apology to forgive because forgiveness is an exercise in “personal rebuilding”. – GI partner Fr. Leonel Narávez [/quote]

Learning of the personal stories of those who have sacrificed for the peace movement, brings more understanding to why we continue to commit our resources and project work to building successful partnerships for community change, like the ones led by our associate Lissette. If you wish to find out more on how you too can support the work begun by Fr. Leonel and Lissette to bring sustainable peace to Colombia, click here.

colombia victims herald

Edgar Bermudez, 35, who was blinded in a 2005 attack by Colombia’s FARC guerrillas, poses with his two daughters Camila Sofia, 5, and Alisson Juliana, 3, outside his home. The government recognizes 6.7 million victims of the 50-year civil conflict. Photo Credit: JUAN MANUEL BARRERO BUENO/JUAN MANUEL BARRERO BUENO