Cali plays host to Fight for Peace Alliance exchange

7/09/2018 – Members of the Fight for Peace Alliance, a global community of organisations working together in support of young people, recently convened in Cali, Colombia for a four-day event centred on exchange and knowledge building. Those organisations present, all of whom deliver programmes in Colombia, were able to share their methodological approaches, discuss successes and mutual challenges in implementing holistic combat sports programmes, and share their joint vision for the future. It was a space to celebrate, reflect, plan and learn.

Colombian organisations were some of the last to join Fight for Peace’s global family, beginning work with us through our training programme in 2015. In spite of this, their dedication and strong belief in the power of combat sports has seen them overcome substantial barriers in designing and running successful programmes for young people living in communities affected by crime and violence.

Thirty-five representatives from eleven Alliance member organisations participated in the exchange event, each learning about the different methodological approaches in a hands on and participatory way. As Yessenia Arboleda, Head of Planning and Projects at Fundación ADA explained, this allowed exchange participants to learn through experience and generate stronger ties: “The event brought us closer to other Alliance members’ work, experience and successes which allowed us to analyse our own processes and strengthen the interpersonal relations between us.”

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As part of the event, Alliance members Grupo International de Paz and Fundación ADA presented their joint Path to the Ring programme which uses boxing and personal development to offer young people a space for transformation and growth. Fellow Alliance member Inder Medellín presented their Boxvivência programme, aimed at young people in youth offender centres, while Fundación Espiritu Indomable, presented its theory of change and Patea programme, focused on the empowerment of Afro-Colombians.

Elsewhere, over the course of the event, participants visited Box Pantera, a highly successful boxing project supported by Corporación Viviendo and Fundación Carvajal, Boxing for Reconciliation, run by Fundación SIDOC and Deporvida and Cali Acoge programmes run by Secretaria de Deportes de Cali, where sport is a central tool for social change. During the visits, neither fatigue nor heavy rain stopped participants from sharing and directly witnessing the power of combat sports in supporting young people to realise their potential. “We learnt first-hand from the actions that are really transforming our country”, noted Yessenia.

The event was fruit of the wonderful dedication of members of the Fight for Peace Alliance, whose energy, inspiring projects and individual contributions made meaningful exchange and growth possible. This was an excellent example of how the Alliance supports exchange aimed at mutual growth and development among member organisations, and Fight for Peace owes a debt of gratitude to the host city and local sports council – the Secretaria de Deportes de Cali – for the exceptional logistical support throughout.