‘Bianca in de Buurt’ travels to Colombia
An ethnographic participatory media approach for mental health and reconciliation (Nuffic, 2017-2020)

Nuffic Grant for Klasien Horstman & Marten de Vries (2017-2020)

After 50 years of civil war resulting in 6,5 million of internally displaced persons, Colombia is currently on the world stage with its process of peace building and reconciliation.

Over a long period, numerous people were traumatically affected by violence and the destruction of their communities, rendering this is a complex and difficult task. Both, victims and perpetrators today grapple with new identities and possibilities, while old wounds remain unhealed. We believe that social media approaches that are anchored in and developed by communities can help to create  new narrative spaces for communication and to find new  idioms of health and reconciliation.

Following on the insights of participative research into the use of media for improving public mental health in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Maastricht (financed by ZonMw and the City of Maastricht) and building on the strong history of Columbian community media, Klasien Horstman and Marten de Vries (MVI Mind Ventures International) in collaboration with colleagues of Javariana University, Bogota, developed an interactive media and public mental health training programme. This programme was selected by Nuffic for funding in 2017.

The programme was attended by a diverse group of participants from government officials and health workers, to university public health staff to community leaders. The first part (July 2017) was conceptual and practical: it was anchored in mutual learning and co-creating  the required local media strategies to promote health, reconciliation and social resilience.  The second part (September 2017) was a practicum in the field including FARC, urban and semi-literate, rural communities each afflicted by the war in unique ways. On the basis of both trainings scenario’s for four media-interventions were developed: a radio-theater play, a children’s book, a documentary, a theater play. For ”the making of”, please see the movie of Mark Timmer:

In 2018 and 2019 the communities tried to continue working with these scenario’s, to fine tune them and to find money for actually realizing these interventions. January 2020 the results of the projects  were presented in Bogota.


Also see: https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/news/story-based-learning-colombia