After a week working in the office where I got to know some of the staff and the daily workings of a refugee centre, I was invited along to a workshop. The aim of this workshop was to educate young Colombian refugees on citizenship and human rights. I was invited to observe the workshop and take photographs on the day in a communication capacity. I rose early on Saturday morning to be picked up by Roberto, the director of the Refugee Centre. We drove through the early morning traffic that plagues Quito to the south of this expansive city. The workshop was being held in a beautiful building surrounded by immaculately manicured gardens. First on the agenda was a breakfast with the staff and a number of the kids who had arrived early ahead of the workshop.
After the light breakfast and a much needed caffeine hit it was time to get to work. Before the kids arrived into the workshop, I helped the staff prepare the room. The projector was checked thoroughly and the necessary stationery was laid out on each desk. It was almost time to go. It wasn’t long before the room filled up with boisterous Colombian teenagers filled with enthusiasm for the day ahead. The staff introduced me to the attendees and explained why I was there before the workshop got underway.
Despite the language barrier I was able to grasp some of the advice on human rights and citizenship that was being instructed to the students by the well informed staff. I was highly impressed by the young adult’s desire to learn and engage with the staff and wondered quietly to myself if Irish teenagers would be so willing and motivated. We had a light lunch at 1pm which was a delicious potato soup, a common Quito delicacy, followed by rice and chicken. With lunch over with it was back to the workshop and an afternoon of fun and learning.
I took my job as photographer very seriously and took numerous photos while watching the youngsters engage enthusiastically with the staff. The afternoon flew by as the Colombians kids learnt about a variety of subjects including sex education, gender rights, human rights and citizenship rights. Curiously, the subject of gender and gender rights seemed to spark the most interest of young students and this debate raged longer than any other. It was so encouraging to see young people who have come from difficult backgrounds engage so thoughtfully in subjects that really matter, subjects that affect them directly. I left that evening with a happy heart and safe in the knowledge that many of these young refugees from Colombia were being cared for by a more than capable staff.
My next update will be about an exhibition of art and photography by refugees that was held in a university here in Quito.
¡Hasta la vista!