Pastora is a Community Leader in the Panorama neighbourhood, in Soacha, a town at the outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia. Historically, Panorama has been a place of refuge for thousands of people forcibly displaced from various parts of the country due to the violent internal conflict.
“When we arrived in our territories, we were not very well accepted. They looked down on us, saying that we were people of bad origin, that we were invaders”, Pastora recalls. There were no services available in the area: “we didn’t have electricity, we didn’t have running water, we didn’t have sewage services”. Moreover, to worsen the situation, Pastora also witnessed gender-based violence and a lack of opportunities for children, with no playgrounds in the neighbourhood.
“It was because of this, that an initiative to help was born in me”, she explains. It was community leaders like Pastora that worked hard to introduce essential services like electricity, running water, and sewage systems in the area to enhance the quality of life in Panorama.
Today, the Panorama neighbourhood is also home to many Venezuelan migrants. Pastora is collaborating with other women leaders and JRS to create training spaces. These spaces foster connections among community members from diverse backgrounds, allowing them to understand one another and share their challenges. Pastora emphasises, “One alone cannot do everything.”
“I dream of my Panorama neighbourhood becoming a united community, with the same objectives and goals, and that all intolerance comes to an end, making it a territory of peace”, she concludes. Pastora has been sowing threads of unity in her community, bringing together people from different backgrounds with the hope of building a future of peace.