Unpacking dreams

A few days ago a friend of mine asked if I would share these beautiful words at a gathering, and that reminder made me think of sharing them here. They are words by a friend and human rights advocate from Colombia, written last fall shortly after he left his beloved country in order to protect his physical integrity. This is my translation of his heartbreaking and inspiring letter:

It’s almost two weeks I’ve been out of the country and it seems as though it were only yesterday that I took that plane, that I packed my dreams, my illusions, my hopes. There are so, so many things, so many ideas spinning around in my head, so many feelings discovered, so much pain, so great the suffering of our people, of us ourselves, my own…

I couldn’t keep a tear from running down my cheek as if it were seeking a refuge, I couldn’t keep from crying, I couldn’t keep myself from trembling when I got off the plane, when I heard people speaking in a language that is not Spanish, I couldn’t keep from being afraid, from feeling naked, unprotected.

Behind… all my life, my family, my girlfriend. Behind me a country, a people that silently resists in the face of so much barbarity, a people full of martyrs, more than 70 thousand victims, with more than 5 million campesinos and people from peripheral neighborhoods of the cities, from the makeshift slums displaced by the military- paramilitary, with a government that sows terror, with a regime that generates social injustice, with more than four decades of living a civil war.

A friend, Sara, had asked me for a name to be spoken in the ceremony at the School of the Americas, I couldn’t give it to her because there are already so many men and so many women close to me, who I knew and shared things with, who taught me so much and who were vilely assasinated by the State in its strategy of low-intensity warfare, in its strategy of assassinating beneath the cover of darkness and fog. That’s why I couldn’t give Sara a name. When she wrote me asking for it, as a gesture of solidarity with me, I remembered each one of those who are no longer here, I believe that at 26 I’ve seen all the assassinations I needed to see in my life… That’s why I couldn’t give Sara a name.

Now I am hiding, leaving the country for a distant land, for another country so that the weapons of hatred, the weapons of injustice, the assassin arms of the State, of its paramilitaries might not assassinate me…

Now from this place I will unpack my dreams and my hopes anew, to carry on, to continue, to prepare myself to return with the surety, with the faith and the hope that one day those things will have to change, that one day we will all be able to be together, those who are no longer here, those of us who have left, those who will come to rebuild our homeland, that it might be like spring, that it might be the rainbow of flowers…

I try to control myself as I pick up my suitcase in the airport, I still tremble and my eyes must be shot, many people greet one another, they embrace, it is reencounter, it is the magic of life… as I exit, a friend awaits me, he smiles, in him the solidarity of the peoples is reflected, in him is the proof that a different world is possible, he looks at me, he hugs me close, he doesn’t say anything, there are more than enough words and in his embrace he understands and feels that the pain of our Colombia is the pain of humanity…

Almost two weeks now and it seems as if it were only yesterday…


About Sarah

I serve with Presbyterian World Mission as liaison to the Andean region. This blog is a place to share stories, experiences, and observations, both my own and those of friends and colleagues and the occasional item of news.
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