Stella Duque Cuesta leads Taller de Vida, our Changemaker organisation in Colombia, working to support children and families affected by armed conflict with the psychosocial support they need to recover and thrive. Here she tells us about what she does and what motivates her.
What inspired you to work with children?
My parents were both educators, committed to children’s wellbeing. Also, growing up in an Afro-Colombian context where protection, community, and responsibility towards each other were valued.
What have you been working on recently?
Through the Colombian Truth Commission, I am working with victims of the 50 years of armed conflict in our country. I am contributing to the methodology we will use to support children to testify, so we can achieve justice and prevent these events from happening again. As well as that, I’m providing the psychosocial tools to overcome what they have experienced.
Separately, I have also been working on a paper for educators, to give them what they need to support indigenous and Afro- Colombian children to recover from social and political violence. We’re just starting to share this now. I have also been working on a paper for educators, to give them what they need to support indigenous and Afro- Colombian children to recover from social and political violence. We’re just starting to share this now.
What have been the biggest challenges in your work so far?
Developing and implementing ways of working, so children involved in illegal armed conflict can be brought back into society. The Taller de Vida team has achieved this together, working with experiential learning, art therapy, and mindfulness. This is called the ‘Bambú Programme’ and has gained a lot of recognition.
Tell us something about your family.
We are a big family, that recognises our African roots and are very close. We are always organising fiestas and sharing meals: brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, brothers – and sisters-in-law, daughters and sons. We’re a big network! What’s your vision for children and families? For families, it’s that they can weave together solidarity, affection, and support, to care for all of their members. For children in Colombia, in particular, to create a peaceful society, where they do not have to experience violence at a young age, and in which they can all enjoy equality of opportunity.