Paloma Martinez has years of experience in the field of education, youth entrepreneurship, and strategies to strengthen social skills through the use of conflict resolution strategies. She is the Co-founder of Colidérate, a social organization created by seven young people in Urabá, Antioquia, who have faced the reality of the conflict in Colombia. Since 2017, Colidérate has focused on developing a school-centered curriculum on leadership, communication strategies, and holistic community security.
They have been witnesses of the human rights, social-environmental and organizational leaders who have been under threat, attacked, stigmatized, or assassinated. She stated, “As a co-founder, I have had the chance of leading the team towards the implementation and consolidation of online and offline workshops with communities in 10 states, connecting them in a support network, making strategic alliances with international cooperation, public and private entities, and academia.” The workshops that she has helped lead include community holistic security topics and leadership dynamics.
This organization aims to include anybody interested in advocacy of rights and community efforts. For Paloma, her passion for mediation is embedded at the heart of Colidérate. Her philosophy for mediation has been to listen actively. She stated, “It is a much powerful tool. I am actually listening more than talking.” Paloma also stressed the importance of connecting to mediation from all realms. In other words, to consider mediation from an array of disciplines to gain greater self-awareness. Her motto in life, which has been affected by this training, includes “keeping it simple and in perspective.” For her, the current situation we are going through in light of the pandemic provides unique opportunities to put this into practice.
Paloma’s interest in the field of education, peace and mediation has been further fostered through her involvement with MBBI. As a recipient of the International Peace Training Institute (IPTI) Women in Peacebuilding, she had the opportunity to work on conflict resolution related issues and efforts in the field of peace. Her self-awareness has also come from growing up in Colombia and the wider Andean Region. She stated, “Colombia is currently going through a historic moment, with 16 days of a national strike and more than 2,110 cases of police violence.” The current situation has made her reflect on the importance of listening to each other while creating meaningful dialogue. Though the government has created roundtables in some parts of the country to engage in discussions, they have not guaranteed the security of citizens. Thus, for her, this is not an effective way to move forward. Therefore, she hopes to contribute positively by providing alternative ways to listen, engage and act. Paloma is currently in Italy, studying Italian and teaching younger students.
From abroad, she continues to lead the Colidérate mission. She arrived in Italy just a couple of weeks before the pandemic started. She stated, “my expectations about living and studying here were different, just three or four months after I began to get used to ‘the new reality.’“ However, she has led her organization, study, and gain wider exposure to a new experience in and outside mediation. During her time in Italy, she has volunteered in an association that aims to support young migrant minors from countries like Kosovo, Romania, Egypt, Morocco, and Albania. Through the Italian Node of the Colombian Truth Commission and the Associazione di Promozione Sociale Migras, she has been part of helping MemorArte, which is a digital Festival of Memory, in tribute to the victims of the armed conflict in Colombia. In the future, she hopes to continue staying engaged in these efforts and aim to grow her organization while specializing in peace studies.
Article by Elizabeth Gamarra, MBBI Writer