How photography is bringing justice to war-torn Colombia

It’s not straightforward for most individuals to take into consideration what peace and justice mean to them, or how to categorical it. However that’s what we ask individuals in war-torn communities to do, all world wide.

One place we did this is in Colombia, a rustic now testing out peace after greater than 50 years of war between left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries, and authorities forces.

We requested individuals in two villages, San José de Urama and Las Cruces within the nation’s northwest, to take into consideration what they regarded for as indicators of justice and coexistence of their communities, what we name “everyday peace indicators.”

By means of workshops utilizing a analysis methodology referred to as “photovoice,” a gaggle of the villagers selected a few of these on a regular basis indicators of justice and coexistence to {photograph}. They then created and displayed private and group photograph tales as a part of an open-air group exhibition.


We discovered that these communities needed to use photography not solely to doc the aftermath of battle and violence, but additionally to actively assist peace.

Photograph tales about justice and coexistence

In San José de Urama, individuals searching for indicators of justice of their group needed to see armed teams and the federal government telling the reality concerning the battle, and former guerrillas constructing households. They needed to see the reality bringing peace of thoughts, relaxation, and reparations for the victims, and an finish to the violence.

Ex-guerrillas construct households: ‘All there is to say is that they’re there, residing amongst us; they rebuilt their households and so they’re serving to to remodel the group.’ [Photo: Yesica Alejandra Zapata David/CC BY-ND]

For Francy Yulieth Manco Ferraro, an 18-year-old photographer from San José de Urama, a key aspect of coexistence in her group is the chance to be out of her home at any time. About this photo, she wrote, “In a world filled with doubt and uncertainty, we could be calm within the data that, after we exit to the streets or to our land, we is not going to hear the terrifying sound of weapons; we shall be in a position to exit freely, to work our land, to harvest our harvest, with out concern.”

Folks could be on the street at any hour. [Photo: Francy Yulieth Manco Ferraro/CC BY-ND]

Some photographers, equivalent to Leidi Johana Agudelo Higuita, used their work to pay homage to older members of the group who had survived by way of the years of the battle, and stored their communities alive.

The reality brings peace of thoughts, relaxation, and reparations for the victims: ‘I had to dwell a battle that wasn’t mine . . . . However the fact will set us free, or not less than I consider so. I’ll always remember how I used to be a prisoner in my very own land. I’ll always remember who I’m now, a survivor and a dignified campesino.’ [Photo: Leidi Johana Agudelo Higuita/CC BY-ND]

In Las Cruces, three generations of the identical household, a grandmother, mom, and daughter, participated within the photography workshops collectively. The mom, Yenifer Yuliana Higuita Bedoya, emphasised the significance of household togetherness.

Households have extra time to spend with one another: ‘These sorts of moments are the perfect approach of forming the type of lasting bonds that enable you to overcome adversity, and it is the way you be taught the rules and values wanted to be a correct a part of society. [Photo: Yenifer Yuliana Higuita Bedoya/CC BY-ND]

One other photographer, 15-year-old Yuliana Andrea David Hidalgo, drew consideration to the significance of youngsters having the ability to play free from concern. She explains her photograph: “Earlier than, once you heard gunshots, everybody would run to disguise below the mattress or in some protected place in the home, and now children disguise below the mattress or in protected locations as a result of they’re enjoying hide-and-seek.”

You don’t want to disguise below the mattress to defend your self from bullets. [Photo: Yuliana Andrea David Hidalgo/CC BY-ND]

Paula Andrea Pino Sarrazola, a photographer from San José de Urama, highlighted the significance of collective work of their mountain farming tradition. “‘You want one hand to wash the opposite, and each to wash the face’ is a saying that grandparents say,” she defined. “That’s what a minga is. When individuals don’t have the cash to pay day laborers, they ask others to assist them, after which the favor is repaid. On this approach, a whole lot of farms and companies have been saved from chapter. A minga—or collective work group—saves lives and land, and protects democracy, justice, and peace.”


Members of the group assist each other get necessary work performed, equivalent to tending livestock. [Photo: Paula Andrea Pino Sarrazola/CC BY-ND]

Different indicators about coexistence included individuals treating avenue animals properly, and the federal government sustaining the roads.

The state maintains the entry roads to Urama. [Photo: Tatiana Durango Rincón/CC BY-ND]

For one in every of their collective photograph tales, the group in Urama captured the dilapidated state of their cemetery. Within the caption they wrote, “The deterioration of the cemetery is a testomony to how a lot the lifeless are disregarded. Weeds devour the tombs simply as our minds eat away at our recollections. Wouldn’t it not be the suitable factor for us to come collectively to keep it, and honor the reminiscence of the lifeless by maintaining this place of transit to the afterlife lovely?”

The group, with the assist of the church, and Juntas de Acción Comunal (group motion boards), maintains the cemetery. [Photo: Urama Photography Collective/CC BY-ND]

After documenting the cemetery’s dire state of disrepair, these photographers determined to take motion. Greater than 80 individuals labored for 2 days to clear weeds and to restore and repaint buildings, memorials, and tombstones.

Volunteer group members work to restore and keep the native cemetery. [Photo: Urama Photography Collective/CC BY-NC]

Now we have discovered that photography may help individuals and communities heal as they appear again at what has been misplaced because of the battle, and use their photographs to present an area for dialogue about how to construct a special future.

Photography let group members honor what is necessary to them, take satisfaction of their tradition, name for justice, and spotlight what is wanted to construct enduring peace.

We additionally discovered that combining photography with our everyday peace indicator approach amplifies native voices, illuminating what policymakers and worldwide donors usually miss about what issues to the on a regular basis lives of the group members they assist.

The authors want to acknowledge members of the EPI Photovoice staff, Edwin Cubillos and Manuela Munoz, the Urama Photography Collective, and the Cruces Photography Collective, and EPI analysis assistant Miranda Pursley.

Pamina Firchow is an affiliate professor of coexistence and battle at Brandeis University; Tiffany Fairey is a Leverhulme Belief Early Profession Fellow at King’s College London; and Yvette Selim is a senior analysis affiliate on the Institute for Public Coverage and Governance on the University of Technology Sydney.