Colombia Reflection: Friendship and Peacemaking


26 September 2013
Colombia Reflection: Friendship and Peacemaking

Artist painting CPT logo on wall of CPT Colombia office

At its essence, peacemaking is about
relationship-building among
individuals and communities, whether they are strangers,
enemies, or friends.
Peacemaking as relationship-building has its roots in the Hebrew
and Christian scriptures.
More significantly for me, I have experienced peacemaking as
in my life in concrete, embodied ways, with women, children, and
men in the
communities where I’ve worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams

This was proven again as I began a friendship
with Aliana*, a
delightful, curious girl from my neighborhood in
Barrancabermeja, Colombia,
where I live and work with CPT.

When I presented the idea of painting the new
CPT logo on
the wall of our new CPT office, I thought it would be great to
involve a local
artist. Fellow CPTer Pierre knew a painter who could do an
excellent job; her
name is Aliana. I was excited, immediately thinking she would be
a university
student or a member of the local peace movement. To my delight
and surprise, I
learned she is an 11 year-old girl from the neighborhood known
for her artistic

After learning about this young artist, I met
Aliana and her
mother at a neighborhood party. That evening, under the cover of
a huge tree,
we sat together to avoid the rain and struck up a conversation.  Aliana asked me the usual
questions: where do
I come from, am I married, do I have kids, do I have pets? And
so on.  I learned she has
two brothers, that her
dog’s name is Negro, and that she makes him clothes. (Yes I have
seen this
curly haired dog wearing a t-shirt running down the street). I
learned she
loves to draw and paint, and that we are neighbors on the same

Upon invitation by her mother, I walked to her
house one
Monday. Aliana showed me her drawings of princesses, Tinker
Bell, and an
amazingly detailed horse whose mane billowed in the wind. I also
learned she makes
sculptures, and was shown the t-shirts she sews for her dog.
Aliana came to the
office to paint the CPT logo of the dove, barbed-wire, and tree
leaves. She
looked at the CPT hat, looked at me and did a double take. She
“Eso es facil.” (This is easy). The CPTers in the room all
laughed in

At first Aliana was shy as I photographed each
step of her
process. I was delighted to watch her study the logo, then the
wall, then begin
the task of drawing the outline with a pencil. It was a joy
watching her gain confidence
as she painted the outline of the logo, then filled in the dove
with great
care. I was fascinated at the detail she used when painting the
wire knot and

The outcome of accompanying this young artist
is so much
more than a picture-perfect replica of the CPT logo on our
bright red office
wall. The “outcome” was developing a new friendship across
barriers of
language, culture, and age! Becoming friends with Aliana is the
experience of the good news of peacemaking—that at its core, it
is about
relationship-building and transforming human community towards
the Kin-dom of
God, one friendship at a time.

The Colombia team with the Aliana and other friends

The Colombia team with the Aliana and other friends. Click here for more photos.

* Aliana is not her real name.


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