Colombian partners César Lopez and Fredy Gallego take their message of peace to WYD at Home
Our partners from Colombia, Cesar Lopez, Fredy Gallego, Maria del Carmen Munoz Saenz presenting Peace Award to Jason Balaquidan
César Lopez and Fredy Gallego, two musicians from Bogotá in Colombia who use their music to teach young people an alternative to violent conflict, joined in the festivities at the World Youth Day Brightlights Festival at Aylesford Priory on Saturday 27 July.
César and Fredy shared their experiences of social justice, peace building and young leadership with the energetic crowd of young Catholics from the UK, Ireland and Spain. Fredy held a graffiti workshop in the morning and the pair performed in the afternoon.
CAFOD supports the peace work of César and Fredy through its Colombian partners CINEP, a leading, independent think tank working on issues related to conflict and social policy in Colombia.
CINEP's project ‘CLICK’ supports young people to work and campaign for peace in Colombia, crucial efforts at a time when negotiations are ongoing to try to end 50 years of conflict in the country. César and Fredy were accompanied to England by CINEP representative María del Carmen Muñoz Sáenz.
César has been playing guitar for more than 3 decades, and now uses an AK-47 rifle that he has transformed into a guitar to play his songs of peace. Fredy is a 32-year old former gang member, who gave up the gang life to form a rap band, and now teaches young people how to avoid violence and instead channel their energies into creative graffiti, break-dance and rap.
During the festival, María del Carmen presented a ‘Peace Award’ to one of our young supporters Jason Balaquidan, 17, on behalf of CINEP in recognition of the leading role he took in encouraging other young people to take the ‘Pass it on for peace’ action in the run-up to the London Olympic Games. Jason was one of the lead volunteers at the Flame Conference 2012 and continues to encourage his school mates to campaign for peace.
Jason Said: “Being presented with the peace award by César, Fredy and CINEP is an absolute privilege. Meeting them has made me realise that the small actions I take with CAFOD really do have an impact internationally. Peace for me is being at one with one another and living in harmony. This is something that I will continue to campaign for.”
César said: “It’s an honour to be in the UK and meeting young people here. I want to thank everyone for their support of our peace work in Colombia. Art and Music are transforming how people in Colombia think about violence. I really hope that my visit will light up a flame in young people and inspire them to work for social justice.”