Amidst the sound of drums, shawms and marimbas, a group of elderly people arrive at the Tecnocentro Somos Pacífico (“We are the Pacific Techno-center”) to rediscover their roots, their heritage and to relive the lyrics, movements and experiences of their lives. To recover their desires, to prove to themselves that they are still capable. To forget for a moment what is happening in their surroundings and connect with their deepest selves through art and culture.
This is the story of more than 50 women who participate in the Peaceful Knowledge Project, a project led by the Tecnocentro Somos Pacífico in partnership with the Alvaralice Foundation and the Obeso Mejía Foundation, which seeks to improve the quality of life of older people living in vulnerable sectors of Cali, through artistic training and memory preservation processes.
This group of older adults, mostly women, come from Nariño, Chocó and Cauca, places where their roots are, where they took their first steps, but from where they had to flee, victims of the armed conflict that has historically besieged our country, to settle in Cali. They are loving mothers, willing to serve their families and their community. Solidary, resilient and with an open heart to recount their life experiences and give the wisest advice to those who need it.
Thanks to the Peaceful Knowledge Project, these women have found in dance, music, theater and fine arts an option that has allowed them to break their routines, meet with their neighbors, talk about their lives and receive psychosocial support from professionals. They have made several presentations in which they have demonstrated to the community and their families, and above all to themselves, what they are still capable of doing.
One of the most significant lessons learned by the professionals accompanying the process has been to redefine the concept of being elderly, which does not imply deterioration, but rather recognition of their wisdom and their way of facing life. In addition, they have been able to demonstrate the change this has brought about in the participants, who are now more empowered, self-confident and convinced of what they are capable of.
Saberes Pacíficos has become an important program of the Tecnocentro that intends to continue benefiting this population, which sometimes does not receive much needed attention from the public sector. Being a victim of any type of violence essentially segregates them from society. “It is necessary to continue working with this population so that they continue to fulfill their dreams, go beyond their limits and exploit their capabilities to the maximum” expresses Mayra Alejandra Polindara, the Project Coordinator.