This morning I met with Juan Salazar Fernandez who is the co-ordinator of PROSIR, a Methodist Church sponsored programme that works with refugees coming in to
The numbers remain small, with PROSIR working with around 112 people. Individuals or families are allocated up to $2500 which is used to support their subsistence as well as relevant education or training. 50% of this funding comes from the Government, the rest in the form of grants from the World Council of Churches and churches in the
Indigenous communities are more welcoming to Columbians, but
Many others suffered the same fate, their names are recorded on a moving memorial in the city cemetery. The wall records the names of 1197 who disappeared and 2000 who were known to have been executed. Above the names is written the phrase “All my love is here and it extends from the sea to the mountains”. 4 sculptures lie in front of the wall, depicting the heads of a man, a woman, a child and an elderly person – the abductors and torturers did not respect age nor gender.
Viviana described how difficult it had been for her family during the years after the abduction of her father. Her sister lost her job and communities feared to offer them support. However she said that the clear voice of the Church was crucial in bringing to an end those dark days.
We were then taken to visit Parque por
The old entrance to the villa is now firmly closed and locked. The key has been given to a church minister with the intention that they should never be opened again, no one should have to walk through them again. The park contains a replica of a small shed in which 5-8 victims would be shut at anyone time, a small wall near a patio on which victims took it in turns to sit and support one another, and a tall water tower that was the place where 90% of those imprisoned there were killed.
A memorial wall records the names of those who are known to have died, shells around the memorial highlighting the final resting place of most. A rose garden remembers all the women who died in the villa.
It is a powerful and moving place to visit, but we reflected as we left that there are many such places around the world that are testament to the horrors that humankind can inflict, something we must keep reminding ourselves about as we seek peace with justice for all.