Michael Lundquist, Polus Center CEO, and Colombia Program Manager Hanns Rothschild visit a village in Jambalò where, in 2012, more than 10 children were wounded in a mine explosion at their school.
In the Crossfire of Conflict
The municipality of Jambalò, an Indigenous farming community in Cauca, Colombia, has been caught in the cross-fire of six armed conflicts in the last three decades - and they are not alone. Rural communities across the region have fallen victim to Colombia’s long history of civil unrest time and again, and for these indigenous communities, the impact has been disastrous.
In 2008 the Polus Center piloted a program to support landmine victims in remote coffee farming communities like Jambalò, helping them to access education, rehabilitation services, and providing them with agricultural improvements through training and direct assistance. That program continues today and has been expanded, replicated, and tailored to fit many communities and villages throughout the countryside.
A Person-Centered Approach
On a recent trip to Cauca, Michael Lundquist, Executive Director of Polus Center International and his team, reached out to the community of Jambalò interviewing landmine survivors, their families, service providers, and local officials, to find out what their most pressing needs are. The overwhelming response was for housing and technology. During conflict periods, many buildings in the village and homes had been occupied or destroyed. In 2012 an antipersonnel mine exploded in the school injuring more than 10 children in the blast.
Together with the help of local and national partners, new housing in Jambalò is being built, and home improvements are underway. A computer center has been completed and will provide the school and the community with much-needed access to technology. Jambalò officials plan to bring neighboring communities together by hosting the first-ever tech education workshop.
While there is much to be done in the municipality of Jambalò, these projects harness the energy of the community, empowering survivors and enlivening hope in a region highly affected by violence.
The Polus Center would like to thank the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs/Office of Weapons Removal & Abatement (PM/WRA). It is through many years of partnership and support that we provide these life changing services to landmine affected coffee farmers and their families.
Many thanks to Dean’s Bean’s Organic Coffee Company. Their long history of support and collaboration has strengthened our ability to provide critical assistance to landmine survivors living and working in coffee farming communities.