Colombia Accompaniment Report: A Visit from Carlota

Lynne Santangelo and Jean Fontaine’s Accompaniment Report – June 6, 2016

This is our third full day in Apartadó and our first chance to join the pastor in visiting families in their homes. As we walked along the dirt streets, avoiding puddles from the storm the night before, we saw children playing games we remembered from childhood, games like dodgeball (but using a weighted plastic bag) and kickball (using small plastic balls the size of grapefruit).

Today was a national holiday in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Many people were sitting outside their simple homes, enjoying a break from the heat of the last few days. Carlota, offering hugs and smiles, was the first to welcome us. As we entered her small cement block home, we were immediately struck by the number of photos of loved ones hanging from the walls. As we sat in the living area, Carlota prepared some tinto (a strong black coffee) and served it to us.

She then shared her story with us. Several years ago, Carlota, her husband and those of her ten children still at home had been well off for a rural family. They had had a house, land, and livestock. During the worst violence of the civil war, her husband, son, brother, and nephew were all murdered as they worked in the fields. A note slipped under the door warned Carlota and her children that they had only one day to leave their home and escape with their lives. They left everything they couldn’t carry and fled to Apartadó.

After a short time, they tried to relocate to a safer rural area where they could farm again; but they were not successful. They returned to Apartadó, where two of Carlota’s older sons were living, and have remained here ever since. Carlota struggles to improve her circumstances, but knows she will never regain all she has lost. Carlota’s strong faith and her supportive church family have sustained her, and she has been a support to others who have also fled the violence.

Please pray for the people of Colombia, who, like Carlota, have lost loved ones and their way of life due to violence, and for all those in other parts of the world who have faced and are facing similar situations today.