Laban Dance for Communities affected by violent conflict/political tensions in Colombia & Peru

panel: Resilience, Resistance, Resolution

Saturday 28th March


Bailey Allen Hall, NUI Galway

"While travelling to various countries affected by armed conflict, I met many women and men who were traumatised. People who have lost family members and /or their livelihoods after been evicted from their land. My work as  the Colombia Programme Manager and Peace-building Advisor  for Trocaire had a great impact on me. I discovered that Development programmes were not fully addressing the personal development aspects of women and men in communities affected by violent conflict. Community leaders and development workers were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, secondary trauma and burned out.  I believe that achieving impact and results in development project has to incorporate the people that work in them. Wellness should be essential component of development processes and this has to  engage the body.

"Through my peacebuilding studies  I learned that building peace is a creative exercise where people in their own communities have to find their own ways to build peace, address conflict and their causes. Dance and artistic expression using the body has a positive effect in the mind.  I also learned that as any other social processes, us , humans are the ones who can make them work. But if we are not feeling well, it is difficult to engage and create positive and fruitful dynamics. 

I am convinced that methodologies that engage the body such as Laban Dance can contribute to build peace, restore social fabric in communities affected by conflict. More and more studies in neuroscience suggest the importance of various functions of the body when we establish social relationships. If we are not in our own body we can't function properly. We all know that. The Peace and Wellness project that I have been leading for the past two years in Peru, Colombia aims at introducing a body, mind and spirit awareness using body movement. This has proofed to  enhance relationships  and generate a sense of wellbeing. Communities participating in this project in Peru and Colombia are willing to introduce these innovative approaches in the coming years in order to work and function better together and create dynamic peaceful communities. Laban Dance is a wonderful methodology that enhances relationships, promotes inclusion and trust-building. 

In Ireland, people were affected by the financial crisis and that created a very high level of stress too.The workshops in the Kildare Libraries and McAuley Place in Naas are intended to address the impact  of the financial crisis within the Kildare community, including post traumatic stress disorder. Feedback from participants show the benefits of the sessions.

  Patricia (Patty) Abozaglo is a Peruvian Human Rights lawyer. She holds a MA in Development Studies (Honours) from Kimmage Manor Development Studies Centre      ( Ireland)  with a thesis on the role of NGOs in Peacebuilding in Colombia. She has been living in Ireland for the past twenty years. Worked with Trócaire as Colombia programme manager, peacebuilding advisor globally and Regional Liaison Officer for East Africa. Patty is a fully qualified Capacitar International Tutor ( Trauma Healing Programme) and a Laban Guild (UK) Community Dance Leader (Grant recipient 2010, Kildare Arts Council). For the past eight years, she has run various  workshops using these innovative approaches as tools for empowerment and wellbeing in development and peacebuilding work in Ireland, and various countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Ireland, workshops in the Kildare Public Libraries have helped members of her community to overcome stress created by the recession.  In Africa, workshops have helped Trócaire Staff to cope with highly stressful conditions and highly conflictive environments in addition to heavy workload. Since 2013, Patty is leading the project Capacitar and Laban Dance for Peace and Wellness in South America which aims to assist communities affected by armed conflict in Colombia and mining extractive industry in Peru, where people have been affected by collective trauma or secondary (vicarious) trauma. She currently works as an independent consultant as well as Associate Lecturer at NUI Maynooth - Edward Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention

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