Transforming dreams into reality in Colombia

One stop in the “Memory Walk” remembering the black robe campaign and the victims of the massacre of august 1998.
One stop in the “Memory Walk” remembering the black robe campaign and the victims of the massacre of august 1998.

I am visiting Colombia for the first time as the new Latin America Partnerships Coordinator. And this is the first time anyone from KAIROS had visited in three years, since the pandemic began. We started in Colombia with the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP). The OFP has been a partner of KAIROS for more than 20 years – from KAIROS’ beginning. The long road we walked together has changed us both. I feel this after these few days in the Magdalena Medio with the OFP: transformed.

Candles celebrating the life of Diofano Sierra Vargas, OFP youth leader and dance teacher whose work was to create a neighbourhood where kids could have a future, laugh, and dance free of violence.

Listening to the OFP’s testimonies, their lives changed forever because conflict is still bleeding their land, I could only wish this pain would end soon. After 50 years, the OFP marked the region, protected its people, dreamed a dream of justice, and made this dream real one woman at a time and as a women’s movement for just peace. I heard that people here have the capacity to make dreams real. And because of that, they pay with their lives just for daring to make real their dreams of a land without conflict, their sons free of carrying guns, of killing not to be killed; a land finally where the blood of loved ones no longer flows and the promises of total peace are real.

At the Museum of Memory and Women’s House in Barrancabermeja with a group of women in a post-secondary professionalization program supported by the OFP.

The OFP celebrated 50 years in July 2022, but their work is as important as ever. They led struggles that nobody else dared to fight, with flowers and black robes, sewing blankets not to forget, to continue dreaming. They struggled for nonviolence in times of war and now teach the younger generations the values and memories that made them who they are now—one of the most respected grassroots organizations in the region and Colombia.

The future of the OFP is woven from the present with dreams of sustainable agroecological production of citronella, supporting women’s struggles to overcoming social and institutional obstacles and spreading the hope of a better future for all. 

La Comunera is the most recent dream made true by the OFP, a place to teach and create sustainability and self-sufficiency.

I read about the region before we travelled here. But it didn’t prepare me for the magic, the pain, and the hope this region and its people carry within. Colombia is a land of immense rivers that has changed the lives and dreams of Colombians as well as visitors to this land. Colombia has changed me as it has changed others who have visited, and the Organizacion Femenina Popular continues teaching and changing us each time we sit together to dream and plan common projects. I won’t dream again the same dreams. Now I will forever dream of the peace this region so desperately seeks.

OFP women’s assembly in San Pablo.
OFP women’s assembly in San Pablo.

Silvia Vasquez-Olguin, KAIROS’ Global Partnerships Coordinator, Latin America and Gender Justice

Filed in: Gender Justice/Women of Courage, Global South, Latin America

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