From October 19 to November 2, JRP representatives Ojok Boniface and Ketty Anyeko visited Colombia in the second phase of exchange visits between survivors of war from northern Uganda and Colombia. You may remember that two representatives from Afro-Colombian communities affected by conflict visited JRP and northern Uganda in July for a similar exchange. Again this time, the exchange was facilitated by two professors from the University of British Colombia, Canada: Dr. Erin Baines (a JRP co-founder) and Dr. Pilar Riano.
The conflict in Colombia has lasted for over 50 years and is still ongoing. The objective of this exchange relationship between Uganda and Colombia is to learn and share work experiences on advocacy, documentation and memory works with victims of violent conflicts.
During the course of the visit, Boniface and Ketty met with missionaries working for human rights protection in Afro-Colombian communities, held discussions with women’s groups and displaced communities, met with organisations working to better the situation of war-affected persons, and met with historical memory groups.
Through this exchange, they learned several lessons based on the Colombian experience, including:
- Forming alliances is crucial and requires collaborations from civil society;
- Denunciation of violence from public figures like religious leaders can have a big impact;
- Memory and memorialization by communities can help heal wounds of the past, even when the conflict is still ongoing;
- Archiving is very important in recording events of the conflict and recording activities of an organisation.
In the future, JRP looks forward to continuing this partnership with war-affected communities in Colombia through exchange and dialogue.