Solidarity spells M.U.J.E.R.
Post from San Pablo, Cantagallo. Colombia
Women from the neighbourhoods around San Pablo, Sur de Bolivar gathered at the Organizacion Femenina Popular (Women’s House) to discuss the details of the upcoming vigil for peace and against violence and to send a beautiful message of solidarity to the women of Palestine.
These courageous women in San Pablo overcame multiple obstacles in their lives, completed basic studies as adults – with children in elementary and high school – and dared to dream of businesses, professions, savings, and investments, as they continue to be at the forefront of the struggle for their rights and those of their daughters and other women. The most unexpected solidarities are brewing in the inclement heat of the Magdalena River in the streets ruined by the rain, and in the uncertainty of climate change. Women who begin to believe in their dreams, believe in their abilities, see themselves in the eyes of other women and find confidence and sisterhood.
At the beginning of the day, after taking a local water taxi down the Magdalena River, we arrived in San Pablo and headed to the family-run, store of one of the OFP members. Here you can buy everything from ingredients for lunch to construction paper and paints for school homework. In the cool shade of her supermarket, Alina told us her story. (Her name has been changed to protect her identity). A petite woman with unbridled strength who realized her dream of independence, Alina now supports her family by working in her small store. And the dreams keep growing. Alina plans to buy a bigger freezer to offer more fresh produce and more variety to the families in her neighbourhood.
We then visited Yamila (her identity is protected), who was working on a complicated braid on a little girl. She told us how, three years ago, she came to the OFP looking for support to get out of a cycle of domestic violence and how her horizons expanded. Thanks to her studies in administration, supported by the OFP and her passion for esthetics, she decided that it was time for the women of her neighbourhood to have access to the most exclusive beauty services available, but at affordable prices and closer to their homes. She offers the latest nail designs, the most fashionable hair products, the most delicate and dedicated attention, and an open ear to listen and give advice and psychosocial support in her beautiful salon.
Just as Alina and Yamila found fertile ground for their dreams with the help and support of OFP, so have thousands of other women. The OFP dreams of a world where everyone has a dignified life, a dream that grows and multiplies in the smiles of thousands of other women.
That afternoon in San Pablo, the OFP welcomed us to their Casa de Mujer, a safe space where dreams grow and hopes are renewed. Hundreds of women have passed through this house, finding support, answers and advice for themselves and their families. A group of these same women gathered today in the white meeting room, an oasis of air conditioning and ceiling fans, to send trans-oceanic messages of love, and respect to their Palestinian sisters, spelling solidarity with the very letters of the word WOMAN.
Dozens of women wrote messages of support, hope and love to the women of Palestine and especially to the women, mothers, daughters and girls of Gaza. Because violence against women does not stop and does not recognize borders, the women of San Pablo spelled out in simple words the sincerest messages from the Magdalena River Basin to their sisters in Palestine. I have added my humble contribution in English to their sweet and potent words in Spanish.
|Mujeres magicas, Magnificas y Maravillosas
|Wishing for better times
|Unidas por la paz
|On the shores of Gaza
|Juntas seremos invencibles
|Multiple hands united in solidarity
|Encenderemos una vela por ustedes y nosotras
|Allies in times of hope
|Refugio para todas
|Near to the Magdalena River, we send you love.
In Colombia, we will participate in the OFP’s Women’s Vigil for Peace on Nov 25. In Canada, we invite you to light a candle to call for cease-fire in Gaza, for peace and for ending violence against women and girls. Spell solidarity with your prayers. Together we are invincible!
Your donation today will have 4x the impact. Please give generously today to support women human rights defenders in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and the West Bank, who are building a more just and equitable world. Until March 31, 2024, every dollar you donate to the WPS program generates $3 in funding from Global Affairs Canada.
By Silvia Vasquez-Olguin, KAIROS’ Global Partnerships Coordinator for Latin America and Gender Justice