Sembrandopaz is a non-profit Colombian community organization dedicated to facilitating the construction of a culture of peace building capacity among grassroots organizations, with the goal of supporting processes of integral and sustainable human development within the populations of the Caribbean region in Colombia. We are a community committed to creative transformation towards holistic life plans that are sustainable, fair, and nonviolent, through pedagogical empowerment.
Sembrandopaz has been accompanying the communities of the Montes de María of the Colombian Caribbean coast since 2005, building on the decades of peacebuilding experience and relationships of Director Ricardo Esquivia. Because of the mutual confidence we have built with individuals and communities across all social sectors, bringing your group on a delegation with Sembrandopaz will offer an honest, nuanced, and diverse perspective on the lived experience of the Colombian armed conflict in this region. Sembrandopaz welcomes delegations from universities, religious institutions, and other types of affinity groups to witness the process of peacebuilding and post-conflict community development. We would be glad to work with you to customize an experience that would be beneficial for your group, as well as the communities with which we work.
Challenging dominant narratives
As an academic pursuit, a delegation can provide a holistic, immersive learning experience. Because of the small-scale, intimate setting of most interactions, students are able to ask questions and engage with communities and speakers based on their own areas of interest. However, a crucial aspect of the delegation experience is hearing narratives directly from affected peoples themselves, presented in the way they choose. While this approach can be frustrating at times when these stories refuse to fit into previously-held notions or present contradicting ideals, it serves to challenge universally-applied frameworks and paint a more nuanced picture of the complex Colombian reality. Delegation participants often leave with more questions than answers, as we feel they should.
Whether it is your first time out of your home country or you are a seasoned traveler, a delegation opens up space for personal exploration and building lasting connections. When you are welcomed into a community with warmth and openness, listening to each other’s stories, or sharing pieces of culture, a special connection is created across lines of difference. Many delegation participants testify to the personal impact of witnessing the strength and resilience of individuals and communities that have faced so much injustice. On a relational level, these types of interactions allow for reflection on the universality of much of the human experience, while simultaneously revealing new understandings about each individual’s place of relative power and privilege in our increasingly interconnected world.
Sembrandopaz’s relationships of confidence with government officials, social leaders, and community members alike allow for access to people and conversations otherwise unavailable to outsiders. Sembrandopaz designs delegations that are mutually beneficial and respectful. Delegations serve to broaden our global network of support and awareness, thereby assisting these communities in holding local, regional, and national government accountable for agreements to provide holistic reparations.
“The entire Colombian journey was a real tour de force, full of new knowledge. As such, all the stories coming from each of the rural communities visited, offered powerful meaning.” ~Delegation Participant
“I studied the Colombian conflict prior to visiting the Montes de Maria region but the printed page falls short of expressing the level of mistrust that lingers in society and punctuates daily interactions. Sembrandopaz’s enduring relationships with various communities enabled our delegation to better understand the generational challenge of peacebuilding in the region.”
“Sembrandopaz is doing so much more than peacebuilding in Colombia – they accompany communities in their pursuit of justice. During the trip, we saw how the deep and abiding political, social, and economic inequality that characterized the conflict is also embedded in peace processes. These unequal power dynamics make peacebuilders’ efforts essential in the struggle for social justice. The trip gave our delegation a unique opportunity to examine grassroots peacebuilding theories and practices in the midst of conflict. We came away inspired and humbled.” Angelica M., delegation participant
“Welcome to Pichilin: even you come from other continents, speak other languages, and have different cultures, for us you will be our brothers!”
Sample Delegation Schedule
£ Day 1: Cartagena
o Irina Junieles, Human Rights Ombudswoman for the province of Bolívar
o Alfonso Cassiani Herrera, Afro-Colombian historian, author, and educator about the history of the Caribbean coast
£ Day 2: Cartagena and travel to Sincelejo
o Arturo Zea, provincial director of the Victims Unit
£ Day 3: Sembrandopaz Experimental Farm
o Jesús María Pérez of the famous peasant organization ANUC (Asociacion Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos), on land struggle and its place in the armed conflict
o Narciso Diaz, farm manager and survivor of paramilitary attack
£ Day 4: Sincelejo
o Juan David Diaz Chamorro, advisor to the Governor of Sucre on Peace-building and Post-conflict
o Representative of Movice, the Movement of Victims of Crimes of the State
o Sociology Professor Jose Francisco Restrepo, ex-Director of the Center for Conciliation of CECAR University and member of the Sucre Peace Roundtable and the Citizens Commission on Reconciliation and Paz of the Colombian Caribbean
£ Day 5: Pichilín
o Visit the community of Pichilín which was the first massacre in the infamous ‘Road of Death’ of the paramilitaries in 1996
- Day 6: Sincelejo
- Coronel Juan Carlos Castro Paz, Commander of the Infantry Brigade
- Alejandrina Pacheco, lawyer and representative of women ex-combatants, on the role of women in the guerrilla forces
£ Day 7: Tolú
o Free day at the beach for rest and reflection
£ Day 8: Sincelejo
o Deiver Canoles, ex-combatant of La Pita, El Carmen de Bolivar, who is now one of the leaders of the Peaceful Movement of the High Mountains of El Carmen de Bolivar
o Representative of the United Nations Development Program
£ Day 9: Mampuján
o Visit the afro-community of Mampuján, the first displaced community in Colombia to receive reparations as victims, to learn about their struggle for reparations and their trauma healing work
£ Day 10: La Pita, High Mountains of El Carmen de Bolívar
o Visit Alta Montaña del Carmen de Bolívar to meet with members of the Peaceful Movement of the High Mountains