The Spiral of Life for Memory: Inter-Ethnic Emotional Recovery and Community Rehabilitation

Our Closing Gaps program recently produced a documentary as a collective memory initiative presented by victims of armed conflict from Caloto (Cauca) of the Inter-ethnic Rainbow Group.

Caloto is a municipality in southern Colombia where ethnic diversity abounds and armed conflict has hit communities hard. Next to farms and houses of families of mixed race, indigenous Nasa communities and afrocolombians live in their collective territories. An outsider might believe that the only thing these people have in common is the violence they’ve suffered. Luz Marina and Telma, Nasa caregivers that promote emotional recovery and rehabilitation of their communities, believe otherwise.

For them, every person is a child of mother earth and, no matter their ethnicity, everyone has the same potential to transform the pain from violence into emotional relief by remembering what happened and creating a new meaning for these events. As part of the Closing Gaps program, at the end of 2016 these caregivers invited Nasas, afrocolombians, and persons of mixed race from different villages of Caloto to be part of a mutual support group.

Twenty-two victims accepted this invitation, giving their group the name “Inter-ethnic Rainbow Group” – highlighting their strength from diversity. They lived through a process of emotional recovery and community rehabilitation together, finishing with a memory initiative called The Spiral of Life for Memory, a 15-minute documentary that portrays their transformation with testimonies of their past, their present, and, most importantly, why they wanted to make their own memory.

Just like their ethnicities, their reasons for memory are very diverse. These are their twenty-two reasons for memory:

For all victims of armed conflict
To defend life and our territory
For girls and boys victims of armed conflict
To heal my wounds and learn to forgive others
To remember my territory without feeling pain
To rebuild the social fabric of my territory
For my sons that no longer exists and to forgive their killers
Because I am the voice of the ones that do not have a voice
For our children and grandchildren so they do not have to live what we went through
For my loved ones that no longer exist
For the memory of my loved one to give me hope
To forgive and relieve my soul
For other to have the same opportunities that I had
To feel good with my family and my community
For the relief of remembering
To alleviate my pain and remember my loved one
To remember our leaders and defend mother earth
To cleanse our territory and for new generations to live in peace
To remember the good and leave out the bad to be able to support my community
To remember without feeling pain from the death of my brother
To free myself from all these burdens
To ease the pain in my soul


The Closing Gaps program and this memory initiative are funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM).


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