The photography session was a great thing, a beautiful artistic expression where the strange combination that forms the sadness, the joy and the hope of exile comes to life.
My experience of being photographed and interviewed has been the opportunity to emerge from invisibility, after so many years of frustration as a victim of the Colombian conflict.
With the commission I have regained faith in a Colombia in peace. In the Commission I have found a place where I feel comfortable, understood and not judged.
The commission has empowered me along my migration process and has allowed me to heal the trauma caused by the war back in Colombia. I have developed a new family and built a new network in London. The commission has been supporting me at difficult times and I am deeply thankful to all the ladies for that.
It gave me the opportunity to connect with a past in Colombia that had somehow been forgotten. The Commission has given us the opportunity to meet as individual migrants and as a collective of resilient women.
The commission for me has been a beautiful project, where we share our life stories and these stories have taught us that despite the diversity of thoughts, ideologies or religious beliefs, the pain unites us and makes us strong. The commission has made my voice so strong, that it can be heard in many parts of the world.
One of the highlights of Colombia Day, was a moving monologue presented by renowned Colombian actress Alejandra Borrero. The monologue tells the story of Ana Victoria Bastidas, a friend of Alejandra and a member of the TMRC, who was kidnapped in Colombia by armed traffickers and subsequently migrated to the UK. On 1 July she was ordained as the first female Colombian Anglican priest. Ana Victoria said of the evening:
For me this is not just a performance, it is my life. Tonight I am crossing over a line by sharing my story with others. Since being part of the commission I have been feeling Colombian again. I am ready to love my country again.
This evening was such a wonderful way to share our work, as women and as the commission. This is the real meaning of a diaspora: that we can recognise in each other the woman that we are; that we all can re-visit the experiences of the past with new eyes in order to re-define the place of origin. Then, and only then, healing takes place and the future is possible.