Where's the Good News?
It’s not just my birthday celebration where I notice the smiles. It was also evident when we visited the displaced families. One of the men said they wanted “seguir adelante,” which means, “to continue forward.” He said they didn’t want handouts, they wanted a new future. My partner—who is the main translator on this trip—took their words to mean the people have hope for the future even though their life as been upset by the conflict in their country.
Another positive story happened the other day when we went to visit a small group of displaced people. About 20 people showed up and there were youth on up to grandmothers. One of the ladies wanted me to take a picture with her 3 year old son. For her, it meant so much that I would do that, because I was honoring and valuing her family. It reminds me of a talk given by John Boyle, a pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, "The Power to Bless." I hope it doesn't come across as a case of myself feeling like a superior person (i.e. white man from the U.S. spends time with poor child in Colombia), because their love and happiness blessed me just as much. The lady told her son to give me a, "besso," a kiss. The whole experience meant so much to me. What really makes me emotional is that I found out later that the boy has Down syndrome. I could tell something was different, but I didn't know exactly what it was. The people have so much love for others even though their life is so difficult. This hope to continue forward is so inspiring.
And finally, one huge example of joy and laughter are the festivities surrounding Carnaval in Barranquilla. Even though the country faces many political and military challenges, there are parties, parades, and gatherings all over this costal city. Everyone takes a break to celebrate life and each other.
As I blog about serious issues in Colombia related to human rights, I hope the story of the people’s optimism can shine through as well.