From my side of the dam

your relation to the dam is relative, let's meet on the bridge

Month: October, 2013

What does it mean to go home?

The small farmers of Colombia have been on strike for the past six weeks.  This meant that thousands of families and hundreds of communities took to the streets of Colombia, blocking major arteries along national highways and demanding change.  The mobilization took place as a result of empty promises from the Santos government who have failed to provide agricultural subsidies, create the appropriate economic and social infrastructure, and facilitate a land reform process where Colombian farmers will be favoured over multinational investors.  Their demands also include and end to the Free Trade Agreements with Canada, the United States and the EU which have made it impossible for Colombian farmers to compete in their own national market.

So they shut the country down.  Farmers traveled for days and camped out for weeks trying to negotiate with a government who refuses to recognize their human rights.  After six weeks of striking, where five people were killed and many more were wounded, the government has agreed to work with various geographical areas individually to tailor resolutions for specific regions.

With a promise of negotiations and a meager remuneration for food and transportation from a tight-fisted government, the farmers and their families have headed home.

But what does it mean to go home?  Some stereotypical ideas of going home that often come to mind include a familiar bed, a friendly neighbour, a normal routine, and a mom’s cooking.  I’m sure most Colombian farming families are enjoying these comforts of home, but I know many of them are also returning to a reality of violence, poverty, and injustice as well as a month and a half of lost work on the land and a dark shadow of years of stigma, abuse, and empty promises from politicians.

But going home does not mean giving up the fight.  Going home does not mean returning to the status quo.  CPT stands with the Colombian farmers and asks the Colombian government to work with them on a fair and just solution.  Because if the agreements aren’t reasonable, they’ll just take to the streets again.  And they’d rather just be at home.

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I knew this would happen…

One of my greatest fears and a large deterrent (but not large enough apparently) to starting a blog was that the world was going to be hanging on my every word and then when I ran out of words, I would let the world down.

So, with more than a three month hiatus from My Side of the Dam, I’ve let ya’ll down.  I apologize.  Here’s my feeble attempt to catch you up on the past three months:

1. Leaving Barranca for my first break off-team was difficult.  The country was about to go into a 6 week national agrarian strike which has now moved into the negotiation phase.  The communities we work with were in crisis as well, and I was going to leave my team short-staffed.  Thankfully while I was gone the team was supported by several reservists.

2.  A week in the forests of the Canadian Shield working at Camp Micah with other CPTers, beautifully passionate people, and best friends was refreshing for my body and soul.  Not to mention the most amazing and inspiring young adults I was blessed to meet and learn from as we continue to dream a new world together.

3. I was also blessed to have two weeks at home connecting with family, friends, and my church community, with time to decompress my first four months with CPT and how to manage a lifestyle full of uncertainty, stress, and righteous anger.

4. Fortunately it worked out for me to take a quick detour down to Pennsylvania while my brother and sister-in-law were there, whom I hadn’t seen in over two years.  After spending time with my mom’s family in PA, we took a few days to see Washington D.C. where we enjoyed a beautiful bike ride along the river and delicious food trucks.

5. The Amazon continues to call my name, so I took my last 2 weeks of leave to explore the jungles at the convergence of Colombia, Brazil, and Perú.  I had not learned to fully appreciate the joys of food until I arrived in Peru two years ago, and I took advantage of my location to indulge in the gastronomical magic that is Peruvian cuisine.  New tasty adventures included Amazonian fish (dorado, doncella, paiche, and corvina), game (peccary and alligator), and fruit (camu camu, copo-azú, cocona, aguaje, and this grape-like fruit that’s not a grape at all but I can’t remember what it’s called and thus cannot leave you with a picture. A shame, because it’s mouth-watering delicious!)  I also smuggled some ají amarillo home with me, treated my friends to the most fantastic papa a la huancaína, and plan on planting the seeds, because life is better with ají amarillo.  Oh Perú, why is your food so wonderful??

6. I’ve safely arrived back in Barranca, refreshed and ready to get back into the routine of life on team.  I’m headed out for soccer practice tonight and am looking forward to catching up with friends this weekend.  It feels good to be home.

So there you have it.  Maybe if I hadn’t felt so pressured to reappear in the blogosphere I would have written something with more depth and meaning to it.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.