Meeting with the Mayor of Pácora
Another principle of community engagement is: Inclusion and demographic diversity, which is defined as “equitably incorporate diverse people, voices, ideas, and information to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.”
Meeting with the mayor and getting permission by community leaders
After the New Challenge announced the finalist for the reward, the amount of $2,500 for the project Voces Colectiva, Jillian and I decided to pick one municipality to begin our work. Jillian had previously worked in Pácora and after having learned that victim’s associations were better formed there, we decided that Pácora would be the best choice. After careful planning and getting all necessary equipment ready, on July 8th 2014, we traveled for our third time to Colombia. On July 10th, we were arriving to Pácora and officially began our project as directors of Voces Colectivas.
Even though most Pácoreños knew about the project Voces Colectivas before the we arrived to Pácora (because we were in constant communication with them through social media), we knew that to formally get permission to work in the community, we had to speak to the mayor and get his full support and permission. We met with the mayor, Oscar Luiz Henao Castaño, who was excited to hear about the project and fully support it. He told us that he could get the Municipal government leaders and some point people that we can interview. The following days a meeting was held where everyone present, heard the mission and objectives of Voces Colectivas. We introduced ourselves and we began to explore ideas for the project. The key to this meeting was to get feedback from community members themselves, which we did. The mayor noted, this was an important step to collecting the stories from the victims and that Pácoreños should be well informed of this process so that when the Colombian government is ready to implement reparations process to the department of Caldas, the community would know the process already. Voces Colectivas would be a great practice for collecting testimonies. After final approval by all governmental leaders, the project was ready to begin.