I arrived last weekend in Barranquilla, when the ever-present music in the streets was louder than usual in celebration of carnaval (a boisterous period of dancing and revelry prior to Lent). I was grateful for a few days to catch my breath, once again enjoying the hospitality of Mamie and Richard, two of our long-term mission co-workers here in Colombia. But in the midst of all the merry-making, I was grateful for a reminder that not everyone has the luxury of such breathing room. For Colombia’s displaced, and for the victims of the recent floods, the challenges involved in surviving and searching for a way to live well continue to loom large.
One of the entries in the parades here served to remind everyone of the continuing needs of the flood victims:
“Water to the neck, and dying of Thirst!”
“We need holistic solutions, no more charity!”
And, in a chilling variation on a familiar carnaval slogan: “Flooding: those who live it, suffer it.”
The call for solidarity and continued attention to the needs of the victims stood in stark relief against the backdrop of dancing and colorful costumes. Meanwhile the needs of the displaced, many of whom are also victims of the flooding, continue to be equally real.
Mamie posted this week about the sometimes competing needs and interests of the displaced versus the flood victims. Who is worse off? Will relief for one group overshadow the needs of the other? What is the hope for recovery and restoration? As Mamie writes, “the shame of it all is that neither group is being attended to as they deserve – some of that due to lack of funds and some due to lack of political will. Nothing new under the sun there.”
The boisterous festivities of carnaval here are followed by a notable weariness and disorientation as life and the tasks at hand come back into focus. I find it somehow appropriate as the start to a season of preparation that recalls 40 years of wandering in the desert and 40 days waiting for the flood waters to subside. Where are we going? What will become of us? Where is God? I find renewed strength and commitment in seeking the answers in community together with brothers and sisters here in Colombia, and I pray we will have the energy and commitment to continue the path of discernment and service.
One step you can take is to celebrate the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia in your church. This year’s theme is “Hand in Hand for Peace in Colombia” and resources are available for use in worship and educational events.