GNRC Africa members participate in Goldin 2007 Event in Cartagena Colombia

Mrs. Finike Gogomoka and Mr. Idi Hamad of GNRC Africa in Tanzania, Mr. Said Abdalla of GNRC Kenya and Mr. Yusuf Hajj Nor from Somalia represented the GNRC Africa team that participated in this years Goldin Institute Event that took place in Cartagena Colombia between the 30th September and the 6th of October 2007. Other African participants included Rev Bolmah Freeman of the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, Ms. Speciose Mukagahima of the Protestant Council of Rwanda and Mr. Celestin Nkundabemera from the Africa Council Religious Leaders regional office in Nairobi.

The theme of this year’s event which was jointly organized by the Goldin Institute and the Centro Mundial de investigacion y capaciton para la solucion de conflictos (National center for research and action for the solution to conflicts) was reintegration and prevention-breaking the cycle of violence for Ex-combatants and vulnerable children and youth.

The event brought together participants from civil society and religious organizations from as far as the Philippines, Bosnia, Somalia, Palestine, Liberia, the United States, Brazil and Haiti. The international participants joined their local Colombian counterparts from organizations such as the Social Foundation, Action Social, Liga de Mujeres desplazadas (league of displaced women), ICBF (Colombian Institute of Child Welfare) and fund reconciliacion among others to discuss, share and learn from one another best practices in the area of youth and child ex-combatant reintegration and prevention. In the four weeks preceding the event at Cartagena the participants underwent a month long online course that analyzed and discussed youth and violence from both the global and Colombian contexts, case studies and an online panel discussion with experts on key thematic components of the event.

In Cartagena the participants had the opportunity to visit some of the projects undertaken by the various governmental and non-governmental groups that deal with vulnerable children and youth. The participants saw a nutritional program by the Mayor of Cartagena that feeds thousands of poor and malnourished children every day. The participants also visited an art exhibition put up by child ex-combatants themselves at the palacio de la inquisicion where they saw and read some of the ex-combatants moving letters.

On the 4th of October the participants launched the day of reconciliation. The day commemorated since 2005 was celebrated through prayers, artistry, song, poem and social events in order to encourage peace, reconciliation and brotherhood among the people. The climax of the event however was the crafting of the declaration dubbed- A Declaration towards Coexistence, Reconciliation and a Culture of Peace. The declaration emphasized among other issues the supreme value of life, pledged to overcome poverty and inequity, rejected kidnappings displacement and any form of abuse and committed itself to the daily construction of a culture of peace based on the respect for the other.

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