by Carolina Colmenares (Colombia)

Making a local connection Colombia


FROM HEAVEN TO FREEDOM A green house with wooden windows is the signal to make a detour on an uncovered road. Here begins a path of yellow earth, gravels and large stones that reverberate the passengers traveling to Libertad, a corregimiento of San Onofre that resisted the violence of the armed conflict in the 90s. In May of 2019, after two hours of travel we arrive at this place almost "imaginary" for humanity, where people of strong and sharp character live, but with an unquestionable talent and warrior spirit. The singing and dancing of the children, youth, and adults of Libertad, is a sign of survival, effort and hope. Just look into the eyes of his people to realize his humility. Freedom in Spanish is 'Libertad', the name of this town, and perhaps its meaning is an symbol that all people carry in their hearts and in their legacy. But there is a song that is heard more strongly in the voices of the Libertians: "I pray the God of the up high, that the winter sends here, from the earth I go to heaven and from heaven I must return ... I am the soul of the fields that makes them bloom" (...) The water .. It will rain! for what?, to drink! " The reality that this community lives, like that of other districts and Colombian municipalities is precarious, people are anxious to have water. Perhaps the only infallible method that meets your needs, is that plea to heaven that emanates women, men, children and adults. When the rain falls from the sky to Libertad, it is similar to a group of people who fan up when they hear the sound of a train's horn, as they wait for travelers who bring gifts, food and equipment. This is what happens in Libertad, when the first thunder announces the rain, the children play in the streets, jump in puddles and bathe, the women have large buckets outside their homes to fill with water, and the dry fields feed to bloom its green color again. This was stated by Inéz, a thirty-five-year-old woman, who was pregnant with her tenth son, with a smile from ear to ear looked at the sky with much hope, perhaps the same that has more than 3000 'liberteños', for having drinking water. It sounds hard to believe, but this population does not have a decent place to meet their basic needs, they do not have a bathroom, they wash their dishes in "porcelains" (a way of calling a traditional container), and they live in conditions of unhealthiness and environmental pollution. Hopefully, the 'liberteño' people that lives up to their name, for having achieved freedom after a decade of suffering, crimes and barbarism, may one day be free to use tap water and have a vital environment. Only then, we will listen to the song of their joyful hearts, with colorful dresses and skirts on women, and white suits of men, who dance and raise their strong voice, with an illusion that has come true: water to drink, water for our community. "From heaven to freedom", it is really a connection with the situation of poverty and vulnerability of the people of Libertad. This town has a fairly warm climate, so every time it rains it is a blessing for people to receive water. On this trip, it is discovered beyond moisture, heat and poverty, the abandonment of the world towards disadvantaged people. This is really what makes you thirsty, you see a bottle of drinking water and would like to multiply it by 10,000. To achieve the dream of the 'liberteños', the implication is needed not only of the Colombian government, but also of international organizations to move to this place and know about reality. Therefore, this story needs everyone's voice, to make it known to the world, cross borders, volunteer, do environmental campaigns, and strategies that help transform a community that today is not sustainable. The number of 3.000 people was extracted from an investigation carried out by a community development consultancy in Colombia. In fact, in total in the San Onofre region, there are 4 villages with more than 5.000 people affected by the lack of water.