Could you tell us about yourself and how you began Taller de Vida?
I’m a psychologist and the founder of Taller de Vida. We began in 1994 when a group of women living in sociopolitical violence, along with a group of professional women, united to transform the lives of children, women and families...Over 22 years, we have continued to work to transform the psychosocial impact of violence in the communities we work in.
Could you share one of Taller de Vida’s major achievements?
For me, one of our major achievements is our approach of including former child soldiers and reintegrating them into civil society through resilience trainings and art therapy...Another big achievement is our work with sexual violence survivors. We work with art therapy, which allows girls to face things they have hidden within themselves. We also organize talking sessions, where girls can express their pain and sadness, dare to raise awareness about what they went through and begin to change this situation.
What can Taller de Vida and MADRE do to change the situation?
First, we have to mobilize international support. Second, we have to mobilize the Colombian government. And, finally, we have to mobilize local organizations and governments to take action and have an impact. We also have to make the voices of girls and women heard.
What does peace in Colombia and el Chocó (the region where Taller de Vida works) mean for you?
For me, peace means justice...It’s also work with memory and the past, because peace is each person knowing they will achieve justice, get a response and be heard. There also has to be justice in the communities, equality, a different distribution of resources. Peace means that marginal communities like Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities are not hungry...Only with these things can Colombia achieve peace...
How do you imagine peace?
I imagine peace as children not having to be sexualized at such a young age, the way they are now in el Chocó. I imagine peace as the families of the disappeared receiving a response. I imagine peace as Indigenous communities having water and a school. I imagine peace as Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities being able to talk about their cultures and having intercultural programs. I imagine peace as communities being able to sell their products at fair prices. I imagine peace as governments listening to us and working with us to create policies. I imagine peace as our approach to change being used at the national level.
What message would you like to give to women around the world living in conflict zones?
I would like to say to women around the world who are living in sociopolitical violence like us that there is hope, that they should always seek support and look for options, always raise their voice and join hands with each other because that is how we can build a global chain of solidarity…
Our full interview with Stella: