Last Friday we welcomed Mgr Hector Fabio Henao, Director of Caritas Columbia, to Leeds Trinity University. Over 60 people travelled for across the diocese to meet Mgr Henao and hear first-hand the role that CAFOD has played in supporting Caritas in building and maintaining peace in Columbia. The event was hosted by the Leeds Trinity University theology department and students from the Chaplaincy were on hand to extend a warm welcome on behalf of the University.
Ben Oldham, manager of CAFOD Leeds, introduced Mgr Henao:
“We are very fortunate to have Mgr Henao join us this evening. CAFOD seeks to contribute to peace and justice through its work with partners in some of the most challenging contexts in the world. Increasingly many of these contexts are characterised by violent conflict. These conflicts often force people and communities in to poverty and make it very difficult for them to raise themselves out of from it. We are very fortunate to have someone with us who has been very close to the Church’s efforts at negotiation with all parties to the conflict in Columbia, to share his unique insight with us.”
Mgr Henao spoke of the history and economic background of Columbia and the key challenges faced by people living in poverty as well as the importance of participation in the peace process at community level.
“The peace process is sustainable if local communities are participating in it. Peace starts from the bottom – from the grassroots.”
He spoke of the partnership between CAFOD and Carita Columbia, made possible by the support from people across England and Wales:
“We have been working with CAFOD on peace-building for many years. We invited the local communities to work together and encouraged them to have shared values for the future. Now, our work with CAFOD is more focused on human rights, in the Northern part of Colombia. It is a project that very focused on the victims.
Our two key issues for the victims are land restitution, and the restoration of their rights. These people have been dispossessed of their land for many years; we have more than 5 million internally-displaced people in Colombia. CAFOD has been very focused on supporting these people, and helping them access more information about support available to them.
We have another issue, related to HIV. The idea is make this a ‘cross-cutting’ issue for all of the programmes in Colombia. This is important as when people are displaced from their lands they become more vulnerable. We are working on prevention – giving information about how HIV works so people understand it. We are also teaching communities not to isolate those who have HIV; so, we are teaching both how to prevent it, and how to accept people living with HIV.”
For more information on the evening please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to everyone who joined us and to Leeds Trinity University for hosting the event. If you would like to find out more about upcoming events then “like” our facebook page and/or follow us on twitter. We will be adding photos from the evening to our facebook page soon.