YAMEN Ambassador of Peace amid Violence

By Rachel Bergen, November 21, 2018 10:11 AM

Damaris Guaza Sandoval of Colombia facilitates a workshop on self-esteem for a fourth-grade class at the Francisco Morazán school in La Ceiba, Honduras.(Ilona Paganoni from MCC)

Damaris Guaza Sandoval says her year of service in La Ceiba, Honduras, was about equipping young people to be God's ambassadors of peace where violence is common. 

Damaris Guaza Sandoval of Colombia facilitates a workshop on self-esteem for a fourth-grade class at the Francisco Morazán school in La Ceiba, Honduras. 

The 26-year-old from Cali, Colombia, worked as a social worker with Proyecto Paz y Justicia (PPyJ; Peace and Justice Project), a ministry of MWC member church Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Hondureña, and a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partner.

In her work from 2017 to 2018, Guaza prepared workshop materials for children on peacebuilding and violence prevention and equipped the older students to teach their younger peers what they've learned. In the end, some of the older students would become school mediators.

Guaza says peacebuilding skills are especially important. "Many of the children we work with come from neighbourhoods with high rates of violence, and it is necessary to provide alternative ways of resolving conflicts without using violence," she explains.

Guaza, a member of MWC member church Iglesias Hermanos Menonitas de Colombia, served with Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network (YAMEN), a joint program of MCC and Mennonite World Conference. YAMEN is a year-long service opportunity for young, Christian adults from outside Canada and the USA to live in a new culture while serving with the church.

Guaza says she believes it's important to equip youth with tools for resolving conflicts peacefully.

"In many of our communities, we have been taught to resolve conflicts through aggression. Therefore, it seems essential that, as God's ambassadors, we can provide alternative tools to communities," she explains.

One boy sticks out in Guaza's mind. She says he was a troubled child whose self-esteem issues translated into violence - that is, until he took part in PPyJ.

"Now he's a positive leader in school, helping his classmates and multiplying everything he's learned," she says of the boy, who is now a mediator in his school.

Matthieu Dobler Paganoni, an MCC representative in Honduras with his wife, Ilona Paganoni, both of MWC member church Konferenz der Mennoniten der Schweiz/Conférence mennonite Suisse in Switzerland, says this initiative is important in the region because Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

"It is important to support such kinds of projects that contribute to envisioning a different kind of society and that have the potential to create seeds of hope for change," he says.

At the end of Guaza's YAMEN term, she decided to stay in Honduras for another year and build on her work with PPyJ as an MCC staff person. She says her experiences in this past year have given her wisdom that will help her better accompany the people and processes in the community.

"It really is a gift from God to continue living and serving in this beautiful country," she says. "I have learned a lot from the people with whom I have related. I am full of hope and love to continue the journey." 

Originally from: Mennonite World Conference and Mennonite Central Committee

CCD reprinted with permission.   

Related Article

Must Read

comments powered by Disqus

More from CCD

Daqing Christian Bible Training Center Holds New Semester Opening Service

On March 5, 2019, the Daqing Christian Bible Training Center of Heilongjiang held an opening service for the new semester.

Professor Gives Speech on Augustine’s Exposition of Faith, Love & Hope

Professor Dr. Stephen Chan lectured on the topic "The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love written by St. Augustine".

President of HK Luthern Theological Seminary Visits Nanjing Church

The president of Hong Kong Lutheran Theological Seminary (LTS) visited Nanjing's Mochou Lu Church.

Changsha Foreign Students' Fellowship Celebrates 14th Anniversary

Changsha North City Church International Student Fellowship Celebrate Their 14th anniversary

Yunnan Multiethnic Christian Church Tells Its History, Status Quo

Editor's Notes: On November 8, 2017, a 100-year celebration was held at the Manyun Christian Church in Jinghong City, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province. For commemorating the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Gospel for this locality. A few days ago, the Manyun Christian Church published an article about the history and status quo of the church.

"They Need More Care and Recognition" - Kunming Christians Talk about Leprosy Survivors

In this era of continuous development and progress in society, leprosy has become history. Only a few people know the existence of leprosy patients and occasionally visit them.

Guangdong Union Theological Seminary Holds Spring Semester Opening Ceremony

Guangdong Union Theological Seminary held an opening ceremony for the new spring semester.

Moving Story of Local 90-Y-O Church Leader

Brother Zhang Guoai served for the church for decades and trained young people.

Christians Leave Families and Homes to Serve Leprosy Survivors

A group of Christians have sold their houses and given up their stable jobs to voluntarily serve in leprosy rehabilitation villages across China all year round.

Commemoration of the Centenary of the Chinese Union Version Bible

To mark the centenary of the much-cherished Bible version published in 1919 in Shanghai, the Church in China held a thanksgiving service and a symposium from 15-17 January 2019.