Of these last eight months, I remember the journeys down the Magdalena, Naya and Cauca rivers; spending time in a Humanitarian Zone with a peasant farmer community claiming their land (in the department of Chocó); my first visit to a Colombian prison and first encounter with David Ravelo, a human rights defender condemned to 18 years in prison despite numerous irregularities in the legal process; my encounter with members of the military accused of extrajudicial execution (in the department of Casanare). I have also shared inspiring moments with the mining community of Mina Walter (in the department of Bolívar), stigmatised for practising so-called “informal” mining techniques, for whom I have the upmost admiration.
I developed empathy with the people of Trujillo (in the department of Valle del Cauca) after hearing first-hand the harrowing story of this small town stained with the innocent blood of 342 people, whose families, symbols of endurance, together with the devoted Sister Maritze, continue to demand justice.
I remember fishing for prawns (or “prawning” as the locals call it), the tales and jokes of the children full of energy and happiness from the Humanitarian Space Puente Nayero in Buenaventura; the pain I felt seeing human rights defenders leave in exile because of the situation of risk they found themselves in; my empathy with human rights defenders frustrated by the delaying of yet another trial, or for the difficulties families of victims have accessing justice; my shared happiness when things are achieved, or when good news arrives; the stress before having a meeting with the military authorities and the satisfaction of achieving my goals; journeys in diverse forms of public transport along unmaintained roads in all types of weather, and of course sharing life´s simple pleasures, such as food, a coffee, a party, songs, a walk, a hug, a smile…These are just some among many examples and feelings that I have in my mind.
What is clear to me is that this experience, with all that it implies, is enriching my life and leaving a significant footprint in my mind and on my heart.
I now have 9 months left. It is little considering how time has gone by in these last eight months. I am happy and eager to continue learning and trying to leave my grain of sand in life´s hourglass.
Delphine Taylor is from a Franco-British family. Born in the United States, Delphine grew up in Belgium where she developed a strong interest for travelling, cultural diversity and human rights. This passion to explore the world seems to be in the family genes as currently three of her siblings are living in Africa, while a fourth lives in Luxembourg. Her experiences abroad and her social commitment encouraged her to choose the educational route of sociology and anthropology, in particular questions about “otherness” in Latin America. She decided to form part of the PBI team to be able to live a new experience and to get to know different realities, human rights defenders and their respective struggles.