Culture to build peace

Since the 1960s, Colombia has been facing an armed conflict, notably between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC. In 2016, a peace agreement was finally signed between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos – Nobel Peace Prize – and the combattants. They put an end to half a century of civil war that left more than 6.9 million displaced, 266,396 dead, and 60,630 missing. To make the agreement effective and fight the inequalities that fueled the conflict, the government is betting on culture as a central element of national reconciliation. In partnership with the National Library of Colombia, twenty Ideas Box have been set up in demobilization and transition zones, where the guerrillas have now laid down their arms to reintegrate society. By creating meeting spaces, these libraries helped initiate the peace process by encouraging exchanges and restoring trust between affected communities. In 2018, the twenty Ideas Boxes were transferred to municipalities; today they are led by community librarians who have been trained by our team and staff at the National Library of Colombia.

An Ideas Box with Venezuelan children and adolescents

In the Arauca Department, Arauquita, Libraries Without Borders and Save the Children are helping more than 700 Venezuelan children and adolescents. Strategically located on the Venezuelan border, we provide them support and access to quality educational content as soon as they arrive in Colombia. The goal: to work towards positive cohabitation between refugees from the Arauca region, the local community, and Colombia people displaced by the civil war. In order to provide the children with a safe environment, we have created the «Friendly Spaces», places where they can play and read using locally-customized Ideas Box content. Everyone can of course access these places without restriction, to share and exchange information and life experiences.