“It is not enough to be compassionate, we must act.” Dalai Lama XIV
In November 2015, we accompanied a passionate team of seven experts from three grass-roots human rights organisations (CREDHOS, ASORVIMM and AHERAMIGUA) to two small, friendly and humble traditional craft mining villages, Mina Walter and Fortuna, in San Pablo, to provide their respective communities with educational workshops on human rights, impart much needed legal advice and assistance and carry out an assessment of their psychological needs arising from their experience of living in an armed conflict zone.
The villages are extremely isolated and only accessible by a precarious dirt road, which becomes almost impassably in heavy rain.
The communities remain largely forgotten by the state; they lack basic public services, including clean drinking water, health care and transport and continue to experience the presence of various armed groups.
Many of the current inhabitants have already been displaced from their original villages and remain at risk of further displacement owing to powerful outside commercial mining interests.
– Sarah Cates, a lawyer from New Zealand, has been a human rights field volunteer for the PBI Colombia project since June 2015, mainly the Magdalena Medio region. In 2002 Sarah visited Colombia as a tourist and this experience further opened her social conscience and led her to return to Colombia.