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Building peace in Buenaventura

We are proud to be supporting our partner Fundescodes to work in four communities in Buenaventura where the need for building peace and opportunity is particularly clear. Together we are supporting children, young people and local community leaders to reignite hope and a commitment to protecting children’s rights within their communities.

 

This year, the project has been working with around 80 children. Already this year, the children have taken part in a series of workshops where they have learnt about their rights and who is responsible for protecting them, as well as taking part in mapping activities to identify the risks they face in their communities and come up with strategies for avoiding these risks.

The children live in neighbourhoods where the violence of armed groups is so commonplace that it has come to be considered a normal part of daily life. Many of the children have experienced or witnessed armed violence first-hand, have been forced to move house as a result, or have lost family members and neighbours. So, Fundescodes also provides much-needed therapeutic support to the children, helping them to understand and manage their emotions, in particular those of fear, anger and grief.

These activities are carried out separately in each of the four communities with the support of local youth leaders and adults. However, at the end of October, Fundescodes organised an afternoon of activities that brought all the children together for the first time.

We are delighted to be able to share some great photos from the day with you!

 

The activity using candles and balloons, which you can see in the photo below, was about self-care. When a child’s focus is on their day-to-day survival, it can be hard for them to think about things like personal hygiene or mental health. Yet, in our experience, helping children to take care of themselves is crucial for boosting their self-esteem and helping them understand that they are entitled to protection.

So, in this activity, Fundescodes created a safe space where the children reflected on how they feel about their bodies and their abilities, and the actions they can take to protect themselves from violence and other threats to their physical and mental health. They also talked about the things they believe that they can achieve in their lives if they continue to care for their health and wellbeing. The children made a collective promise to care for themselves and one another and to seek support when they need it.

 

The balloons represent children’s right to play, which the context in Buenaventura often makes impossible for children to enjoy. Each candle represents a child – a light with the power to brighten the present and future of the communities.

We think that the smiles on the children’s faces are worth a thousand words about how much they enjoyed and valued the day…even the tropical rain didn’t dampen their spirits!

 

The children also shared songs, artwork, games and music with one another that they had devised during previous activities at the project. This was really important for creating a sense of community among the children from different neighbourhoods, helping them to understand each other’s lives and experiences, and giving them the sense that they are part of a broader movement building a future of peace and opportunity in Buenaventura.

The text on the building above reads: "The people will never give up because this land is ours, completely ours."

To learn more about Buenaventura and our work with Fundescodes, visit our webpage about the project, here. You can also read about recent successes of the project in our Spring 2018 newsletter, here


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