May 02, 2018
CONABIP in Colombia strengthens and develops Community Libraries
A unique exchange experience to consolidate the Peace Process in Colombia.

Luciana Rabinovich has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master's Degree in International Relations. As Adviser in International Cooperation of the National Commission of Popular Libraries Coordinates the Prevention Program for the recruitment of children, youth and adolescents in the municipalities of Popayán, Algeciras and Puerto Asís, in Colombia together with Fundación Los Grobo and the Municipality of Vicente López , in which they develop an important task of training and exchange in three Colombian municipalities with the aim that "through reading, art and sports these spaces can strengthen and energize the communities of the territories where they are inserted", strengthening the Peace Process in the Latin American country.

What is the process and genesis for which CONABIP is involved in the Peace process in Colombia?

In 2016, the Argentine Foreign Ministry, through the Argentine Fund for South-South and triangular cooperation, invited us to participate in the project "Prevention of recruitment of children, youth and adolescents in the municipalities of Popayán, Algeciras and Puerto Assisi "for detecting in CONABIP a valid interlocutor to work on a project to strengthen three Colombian community libraries together with the Colombian Agency for Reintegration (ARN-Colombia).

The initial project contemplated only a donation of books to the Colombian libraries. Throughout the first months, we were working on the content and objectives of the project, so that it would be more enriching for the Colombian communities, as well as for CONABIP and the Argentine referents. Finally, we were able to reach an interesting exchange system, with a strong component of training by CONABIP.

Which institutions participate in the program?

On the part of Argentina, apart from CONABIP, Fundación Los Grobo and the municipality of Vicente López are members. Fundación Los Grobo, through the organization Potenciar Comunidades, contributed to the development of the activities, through a participatory diagnostic report that provided the tools to outline the work agenda in the Colombian communities. The municipality of Vicente López contributed its experience with the Neighborhood Centers for Children and Youth, and the activities that take place there.

What are the objectives of the program?

The project promotes the strengthening of the three community libraries of the municipalities of Popayán, Algeciras and Puerto Asís, to enhance them as protective environments and rights promoters within the framework of the Peace Process that the country is going through since the signing of the agreements in 2016. objective is that through reading, art and sports these spaces can strengthen and energize the communities of the territories where they are inserted.

How is the program developed?

The program was developed through a series of exchanges where, first, the Colombian referents visited Argentina on two occasions, and then, a group formed by a member of the CONABIP together with four popular libraries of our country, were able to travel to Colombia to conduct trainings.

What do the representatives of the Libraries in Colombia do?

The CONABIP, together with the referents of the libraries, made a fifteen-day training trip in the three Colombian communities in November of last year, and plans a second mission in May of this year. Before the first mission, CONABIP made a donation of three hundred books to each of the libraries, to be able to work with that material.

Once in the territory, the referents of the Popular Libraries carried out training on issues of reading promotion, rights promotion and library management, as well as workshops with the donation of books and reading and writing workshops with children and adolescents. They also shared moments of music and traditional dances, of chatting and exchanging experiences and life stories that strengthened the bond and trust among the participants.

As work was carried out in three municipalities with different characteristics and peculiarities, as well as different stages in the development of their libraries, a work scheme focused on local needs and potentialities was prepared for each of them.

What do the Colombian representatives do when they arrive in our country?

The community leaders and referents who are in charge of community libraries in Colombia were able to travel to our country and learn about the reality of popular libraries, visiting some of them, and meeting at the headquarters of CONABIP with references from popular libraries of all the country that told their reality, the day to day in their spaces, the challenges and activities they develop.

What are your chances of replicating this same scheme in other conflict zones?

The model of popular and community libraries is highly replicable in other areas of Colombia. In the first place, we detected the interest of the communities in being able to have a space of community belonging. In addition, the interest that books and reading aroused was striking. Not only on the part of children and young people, who set out on the adventure of choosing the book that convened them, but also adults, eager to read and travel with their imagination, or to investigate about issues that concern them.

The challenge for these communities is to consolidate work groups that, because of their social and work situations, can sustain the project. Communities face problems such as the vulnerability of children who must leave school and work to support their families, rights violated in various dimensions and lack of opportunities for personal and professional development of the inhabitants of these municipalities, which in many cases , they must also face situations of isolation due to geographical reasons. But they also have a great history of struggle and a strong capacity for community organization, basic pillars to sustain a community project.

Published by: (Argentina)
Automatic translation from spanish.

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