Mental resilience and reconciliation in Colombia
An ethnographic participatory media project (Nuffic 2017-2020)

A participatory media approach for mental health, peace and reconciliation for communities was developed in Colombia  after the signing of the peace treaty in 2016 that intended to end 5 decades of civil war. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and storytelling, in 2017 and 2018 communities developed stories and scripts to articulate experiences of suffering and dilemmas of the peace process, and to overcome idioms of violence. Four potential media productions were developed for different types of audiences. 

The Chameleon of 1000 colors wasa children’s book based on experiences of residents of the village Media Luna about  losing and rebuilding identity and hope after a 30 year period of fear and adaptation to diverse violent threats wherein the community lost its voice and self-esteem. Another script was Stories of Guatapuri River, a documentary about the disruption of the life along the river as a metaphor for different faces of violence and suffering as well as the transformation of the river of blood during the civil war to a natural source for healing and reconciliation, while still struggling with the mining industry’s pollution of the river.  

This script was based on  experiences of the indigenous people and their neighbors along the river in Cesar.  In 2019 three of these scripts were translated in actual media productions and tested in communities. In January 2020 these productions were presented for a broader audience in Bogota and they were ready to be used in communities to inspire sharing experiences and a dialogue about the rebuilding of community life after the civil war.