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For over 50 years, Colombia has suffered so much. More than a million people have been killed in the conflict and more than 8 million were forced to flee their homes; many of these children. 

However, almost five years ago a peace deal between the then largest guerrilla group and the Colombian government created an opportunity for people to build peace in their communities. And thanks to generous Hands On supporters, people living in the Magdalena Medio region tired of being caught between government forces, guerrillas and paramilitaries have taken action.  

Young people for peace 

Young leaders have taken advantage of this unique moment in Colombia’s history, and have been bringing about change.   

Working with our local experts in Colombia, and with the help of Hands On supporters, people living in the Magdalena Medio region are proving that young people can resolve conflict peacefully through education, empowerment and embracing a culture of peace. A vital first step on the road to a future free from violence. 

Hands On in action  

Dialogue is key to promoting peace. This is why local experts have worked with young people in lots of different ways, to encourage them to learn how to communicate, express themselves and resolve conflict peacefully. Here are some of the ways the people of the Magdalena Medio have been working for peace.

Workshops have encouraged students in schools to think about their future, the role they play in their local community and care for the environment. It has given them a space to think about respect and how conflict can be resolved through dialogue and how they can aim for a future where they are not caught up in the conflict.    

There is also a need for peacemakers, men and women prepared to work boldly and creatively to initiate processes of healing and renewed encounter.

Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 2020  

Local radio has helped give young people a voice. A local radio station broadcasts Catholic Mass, debates and discussions. Young people have participated in discussions on this radio about peace building and their thoughts on this. This has been particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic.  

While women’s groups have given women safe spaces to talk about conflict, receive support and advice.  

Peace through dance and arts  

Another creative way that local experts in the Magdalena Medio community have educated young people on peace building has been through teaching them about their culture. Using theatre and dance, including holding street performances, to tackle trauma from violence and to raise awareness of this issue. Speaking of this, Leslie, a member of the youth theatre group shared: “This project has been one of the nicest and most positive things that has happened to us. We can see how much we have grown.”  

While we celebrate all that has been achieved with the Hands On Magdalena Medio community, this is not the end of Hands On. The next Hands On project will be launching soon.