As many of you will know, the charity Christian Aid holds a dear place in my heart! Christian aid is the reason I ended up in Nottingham, and how I met Michael, my husband. I worked as an intern for Christian Aid in the Loughborough office for 10 months before I started working at Grangewood. I spent those 10 months travelling around the east midlands telling stories, and raising awareness and money for this charity. One thing I always admired about Christian Aid is that they believe in dignity and empowerment of the people they work with. All over the world they work with local groups, organisations and charities that are on the ground and from the countries that they are working with. They want to empower people to lift themselves out of poverty and call out the systems and structures that are holding them there.
Whilst working for Christian aid I got the amazing opportunity to go out to Colombia and meet with different partners of Christian aid and see the work that we back in the UK were supporting, you can find out a little more about that and hear the song I wrote about it here.
What amazed me about the trip was the lengths people went for us to hear their story. One youth group who were campaigning for farmers rights travelled 24 hours to meet with us. So we could go home and tell their stories, so we could let their voices be heard all over the world.
In the 8 months after I visited Colombia I visited so many churches, youth groups and Christian aid groups around the East midlands, and I shared with them the story of the people of Cacarica, in the hope that they too would stand in solidarity with these people. So I share it now with you too.
The Displaced People of Cacarica
1997 we fled our land, a day we will never forget etched out on the insides of our eyelids so even when we sleep the memories flood our dreams and turn them to nightmares. I see them every night, the paramilitaries, marching towards us, guns in hand, they want to take our land, sell it to people in suits, people with money, money to pay for their guns and their violence. Money to pay for more death, more terror.
A sports hall is where we called home for 4 years, so many of us, over 250, babies, children, mothers and fathers, grandparents.
bright, too bright.
Not the good bright like the sun that shines down truth but a brightness that strips you down to your imperfections, that maximises your discomfort and illuminates it for everyone to see.
But they weren’t looking.
Averting their eyes from our ugliness muting the cries of our children, hungry.
our people. They did not want to know they did not want to see our pain.
They looked from afar through peeking fingers not wanting to see too much in case our pain caused them a torment so profound that they would have to change their well-to-do ways.
But we were not alone.
Hands reached out from faces we did not recognise. Comforting our young and standing beside us as we fought. and they fought too. Kicking and screaming until our case was heard.
They were the Inter-church commission of justice and peace. They were our brothers and sisters, fighting in international courts for our land.
And here we are. In this home, in this land we call a humanitarian zone, guarded only by words and a simple fence.
Our stories are not over, our voices are not yet respected and we are not safe.
But our lives will continue on this land we have returned to. This land we have returned to. Our dignity cannot be bought and our rights will not be sold.
We will stand tall, with hope in our hearts.
Will you stand too?
Based on the stories of the people of Neuva Esperansa en Dios humanitarian zone