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A new order

BredaPhoto Festival shows the state of the art of contemporary photography on the basis of a socially relevant and international recognizable theme. A pamphlet, outlining the direction for BredaPhoto 2020, is the starting point for an in-depth discussion to determine the final theme for BredaPhoto Festival 2020. Raquel van Haver, Visual Artist, reflects on the pamphlet.

A new order
At this moment, in a small hotel called “…”, with the sound of crickets in the background, I once again start to read the pamphlet thoroughly. The wind is blowing, and mangos fall from the trees. They hit the ground with a hard thud, where the dogs quietly laze in the evening sun.

I’ve begun a research study into female leaders in Colombia, women who ¾ under extremely complicated political and economic conditions ¾ try to do their work. They all have different starting points, but they all live and work towards a common goal: improving the community in which they live and making the education system – that which provides a good education – accessible to a wider group of Columbians.

Abuse, violence, war, machismo, racism, corruption, poverty and pollution play a big role here in the daily life of the women in Columbia. What I particularly notice during this first period of my research is that I started out from the perspective that we – as Westerners or rich Global Citizens with our yoga classes, parties, cappuccinos, bio-products and other ‘’innovative products with a positive view of the world” – can often afford.

Good intentions
Good intentions are often initiatives to start up activities in specific areas. But with good intentions, you won’t achieve what you set out to do. Often something goes wrong, through inadequate research, insufficient communication (or miscommunication) with the local residents, inaccurate estimates and cultural differences. Corruption in the local political structure, misuse of power and division of land often play a role too.

Many projects need help and extra support because they support too many people and too often have to say “no” because there’s not enough money to fully realize the objectives of the project. Money for learning materials, medicine, clothes and safe accommodation for women and children is often the first priority. A beautiful and moving project is called “Lia Mujer”: an organization that focuses on women in Cali who have HIV and offers shelter to women who come as refugees from Venezuela. Many with children who were conceived through rape during their journey to Columbia. The organization offers the women accommodation and provides childcare and medicine for HIV. Regrettably, because of the financial deficit and the different structures through which the organization works, the organization also to say “no” to women with the most harrowing stories. There is simply no budget.

And here it becomes clear how much a human life is worth in financial terms.

Many female and male social leaders are murdered. As a warning. Including Maria Delpilar Hurtado who was murdered on June 21, 2019, as she brought in her shopping with her 9-year-old son. She was liquated before the eyes of her children and her neighbors. On YouTube and on social media, you can find videos of her son, screaming, next to the lifeless body of his mother. SICKENING. But according to the leaders I spoke to over the past weeks, this type of murder is commonplace. Where is the support, the safety that a government, the politicians (national and international) must provide? It’s n to be found. They speak out on TV, radio and in the newspaper but that’s often as far as it goes.

The West sees itself as a self-contained entity and looks down on other countries. But both worlds are interconnected. But just as in a bad marriage, the partners seldom speak to each other or not at all with the children as the victims. Money, land and power play a large role and always have had.

A (so-called) newer awareness.
My personal opinion is that we have the same awareness, the same body and the same brain.

But through our developments, the knowledge that we have has become more and more refined. More knowledge and therefore more choices. It’s a fact that more choice often leads to confusion in a country or place where you have the luxury of making your own choices.

The project on which I’m working, has just begun. It’s important to talk about all the differences and especially not to turn a blind eye to everything that happen in our world. The main thing I learn from these inspiring women is that, with the right knowledge and education, patience and by listening, we can care for our community. I feel positive when I look towards the future see the possibilities that they see too.

Including the fact that together, we all have enough money to travel, and that many cities, as a result, are quickly taken over by tourists. Tourism often brings strong but short-lived economic growth but it’s far from everyone who can benefit from this growth. Often, big companies arrive on the scene and push out local businesses. For example, in Cartagena, which can be compared with an fledgling ‘Venice’. Ladies like Mariela Cabarca Cart who, with her organization, educates children in neighborhoods where many people live who have been pushed out by gentrification (the influx of more affluent residents and businesses). Many children – in their need for food – are vulnerable to the abuse that tourism brings. Mariela tries to give children a broader perspective than they have known, through a system of education in art and culture and through her organization of national and international exchanges with schools and universities. She offers them a perspective of, literally, a new future.

There are programs that we have in The Netherlands too. Other programs would be valuable if they were initiated in The Netherlands. The project of Adalvis Anaya, who promotes the Afro-Columbians and the acknowledgement and recognition of their own identity, is an example.

It’s fascinating and beautiful to see that acknowledging and recognizing the importance of your own identity and sense of place, forms the basis for your future.

Raquel van Haver
Visual Artist