Colombian delegation visits London and Belfast

The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building had the pleasure of working closely with the Colombian Embassy to the United Kingdom in November.

The week of engagements began with co-organising a discussion in the House of Lords with CDPB emeritus chairman and host, Lord Alderdice, in conversation HE Ambassador Roy Barreras and the Women Weavers of Mampuján, exploring lessons of the Irish and Colombian peace processes, reconciliation, and the art of healing.

The Ambassador was a plenipotentiary negotiator on behalf of the state in the peace process with the former FARC guerrillas and spent three years negotiating that process, achieving the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2016. The women are part of a group of displaced women from the community of Mampuján in the Montes de Maria region of Colombia which was destroyed from the conflict. Drawing on Afro-Caribbean storytelling and local textile art traditions, the group depict the atrocities they had suffered as a community and document their displacement, a central component to their process of healing and re-building.

Later in the week CDPB had the honour of hosting the Ambassador and his delegation in Belfast for a day full of engagements and fruitful conversations concerning the shared learnings from the Colombian and NI peace processes. The Ambassador was welcomed by the Speaker of the Assembly, Alex Maskey, at Stormont before engaging with a delegation of political leaders from Northern Ireland. Later in the day he met with members of the British Council and received a VIP tour of the award-winning Titanic Belfast.

The Women Weavers of Mampuján engaged with various individuals from across Northern Ireland in a workshop at Ulster University, Stitching our Stories: Displacement, Healing, New Possibilities, in partnership with Conflict Textiles. It was a truly powerful day with many friendships made and experiences shared. The Ambassador was welcomed to Ulster University later in the day by Vice Chancellor Paul Bartholomew to open the new Conflict Textiles exhibit and gave a lecture on the vital role of empathy in the process of reconciliation.

A special thanks to the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council for their vital support in making the Stitching our Stories workshop possible, Conflict Textiles, as well as Ulster University and Ulster Presents, especially Professor Duncan Morrow, Professor Brandon Hamber, and Cian Smyth.