Mixed Feelings about Marching

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I had a great time hanging out with the community of Montecristo, near Mampujan, talking about the past, sharing my experiences of walking with Mampujan, joking around, and hearing about their dreams for the future. The community was displaced starting in 1990 with the first death of a community member and ended with the last death in 2005 of a local farmer. They are planning on joining the march this weekend; besides demanding their rights as victims of armed conflict (including disappearances, torture, kidnapping and 12 assassinations) they want to draw attention to their need for a bridge across this creek so that they can have easier access to their crops.
I had a great time hanging out with the community of Montecristo, near Mampujan, this morning, talking about the past, sharing my experiences of walking with Mampujan, joking around, and hearing about their dreams for the future. The was displaced starting in 1990 with the first death of a community member and ended with the last death in 2005 of a local farmer. They are planning on joining the march this weekend; besides demanding their rights as victims of armed conflict (including disappearances, torture, kidnapping and 12 assassinations) they want to draw attention to their need for a bridge across this creek so that they can have easier access to their crops.

Whoever said non-violent direct action organizing and execution was glamorous should be non-violently chastised. It is not and frankly, I’m not super excited about the act of marching on Saturday, until who knows when. (Here’s some info about what we are doing and why)

Memories of last December and the march of Mampuján come swirling back- poorly organized, no sleep, so dirty, running, not walking, to transport and organize people and things, peeing once a day because I was so dehydrated, culture shock, crying on cabbages, dead donkeys etc. As my dear co-worker Larisa remarked afterwards the march was, “the craziest four days so far in Colombia (in my life?!).”

However, I am still going to march. Not because I am glutton for punishment or a super-hero, but because there ARE things I am very excited about, such as:

The adrenaline rush of witnessing, and joining, over 1000 people walking together peacefully; communities that were divided before but have been brought together by the empowering act of planning their own future, step by step.

Being part of a team of dedicated and passionate people, who are willing to risk motorcycles accidents, go without sleep, donate all of their phone plan minutes, have endless patience with meetings and planning, mediate potential conflicts, travel to Bogota, sacrifice family time for planning time and much, much more. I am excited to work alongside of all them this weekend: The community leaders of the 33 participant communities. The staff at Sembrandopaz. Co-worker Jes Buller. And especially fellow Seeder Larisa (featured in this article about the march), who is a great friend and one of the best community organizers I know.

Witnessing the pride people will have in themselves and their accomplishments when the march ends. They will have blisters, but they will be smiling and will never think about themselves in the same way again. If they can do this, they can do anything!

Taking part in a historic moment and mobilization in Colombia’s history; participating in social change from the bottom up.

Working together to help bring members of my community of Mampuján to participate, giving them the chance to use their vast experience and knowledge to help others.

Wearing a t-shirt that says logistica and pretending that I know what I am talking about.

Reflecting on the appropriateness of the activity- it is such a fitting close to my time here, a bookend by two peaceful marches.

All that being said, I am going to try to sleep well tonight, bring almonds along for energy and get through this one step at a time. Here’s our slogan: Las montañas se mueve! (The mountians move). Even though I only have the stamina of a mustard seed, we are going to move some mountains this weekend!

And as Larsia also stated “I hope that you can understand some of the madness and all of the beauty that made it all worth it- blisters, dehydration, stress and exhaustion. Learning about organization. Walking for rights with the displaced community of Mampuján. Demanding to been seen, listened to, treated with dignity. What an incredible experience. I hope you are as inspired as I am, and not nearly as exhausted.”

I’ll try to keep you posted!

7 comments on “Mixed Feelings about Marching”

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