Peace and Reconciliation

 

 

Imagine being sent to the other side of the world, knowing no-one, being tasked with expanding a large UK International Development Charity. You’re just out of uni, a trustee of said charity but still slightly terrified. Well I bring you just that.

 

Sustainable Development in Colombia

A life changing experience that has shown me the heart of modern community. A place where ideas are cherished and international development projects come from people like you and me. What I learnt; people just want to make the world a better place. Well thats the impression.

This was my experience of the One Young World Conference, Bogota, Columbia.

“the harder part was achieving the cultural change that would ensure peace – reconciliation.”

On top of all that the main overarching theme was Peace & Reconciliation, focussing on the role that young people can playing propagating peace. It only seemed appropriate as the Conference was in Colombia, a country who has just spend 6 years negotiating with the FARC to end 60 years of conflict. An incredible achievement by President Santos and his team but there was a feeling that just signing a document was only the beginning, the harder part was achieving the cultural change that would ensure peace – reconciliation. The hardest part of conflict is to see the opinion of the opposite side, how to do you that people are willing for forgive on that side too? How do you know that people will keep there word? And how do you know that the thoughts and feelings of generations will change with the stroke of a pen?

Well, you don’t. It takes incredible courage to forgive and throughout the conference there were stories of forgiveness and reconciliation that tugged on the heart strings of all. Hyppolite Ntigurirwa’s story shocked all about the Rwandan genocide in which killed 1 million people in 100 days:

‘’may of my family were killed and some raped in front of me…I saw my dad being killed and fed to the dogs to eat, I survived by hiding under dead bodies, mass graves. I lived like a wild animal, hiding in the bush. Always expecting to be killed. I was only 7 years old’’ 

He went on to live in refugee camps and often wished death rather than living in those conditions. But he survived it all. But what he relished through all of this evil was ‘’what was killing us Rwandans in the genocide was not the people but that hatred that was taught for generations before the genocide’’. This was this that brought him to forgive his fathers killers.

Hyppolite ‘’wanted them and the world to know the price of a lasting peace’’.

Life Changing Stories

If everyone was like Hyppolite there would be no conflict but unfortunately that is not a reality of this world. But he does give us a shining example for others in Colombia, and other war torn countries across the world, that Peace & Reconciliation is possible. No matter what happens.

Link to Raleigh alumni blog which contains extracts of this – https://raleighinternational.org/blog/alumni/give-youth-power-drive-sustainable-change-will-ben-attends-one-young-world-summit-colombia/