No news from Nicaragua this time, because I have been here in Colombia since Fri 31 August, by myself without Jonathan. It’s a strange feeling to be away from Nicaragua, especially because the situation there is very uncertain and a lot can happen in the two weeks I’m away. Unfortunately, there is no let-up in the violence and chaos. But life has to go on, so here I am in Colombia for two weeks.
I’m writing this blog from Pozo, about an hour’s drive from the capital Bogata with its population of about 8 million people. I’m staying for a few days with a former colleague, Frans, from People with a Mission, to meet him and to observe him giving therapies. I also have time to visit the salt mine of Zipaquira where salt has been extracted since Indian times. Apparently it is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Colombia, and in a large empty space they have built the stations of the cross and a cathedral that is used for Sunday services. It is incredible to realize how much creative effort has been made in this mine.
From Wednesday to Sunday I am doing an on-line course on transpersonal psychology with a Spanish institute. One of the requirements is that I must have face-to-face contact with a mentor for a week, and the nearest option for me was Mexico or Colombia. Frans’ presence in Colombia made me decide on Colombia. And to top it all, I have also been lucky enough to be invited to visit a Dutch colleague in Barranquila!
After my course I will spend two days in North Colombia in the town where Shakira, a musician popular with my children, was born. There I will get to know Maria who, like me, also works via the Dutch organisation Week Dutch Missionaries. She has been working in Barranquilla since 1985 with children with a disability. She started as a volunteer but went on to build up a centre called Ce Camilo. She is now the general director and chairperson of the centre’s Board, which supports a well-functioning managing committee and an enthusiastic team of 87 members of staff. At Ce Camilo special needs education and therapies are offered, between 8:00 and 13:00, Mondays to Fridays, to 200 young people from poor parts of the town who have a disability; 77 disabled youth who can function reasonably well in society receive training to learn a trade; the organization also runs an orthopaedic workshop, and offers ambulant therapy. They also have a rehabilitation program called RBC (Rehabilitación Basada en la Comunidad) for 1400 disabled people of all ages from poor quarters of town. Obviously my paying them a visit is very worthwhile and I hope it will bring new ideas that we can apply in our work.
People’s cordiality here is heart-warming. Fortunately my Nicaraguan Spanish is well understood here. I was minimally prepared for this trip, so I’m even more open to what comes my way and enjoy responding to what life offers me NOW. So far I could not have wished for a better programme.