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July 8, 2011

Nutritionist, Luis Mayer, checking-up children at the office

One of my main interests in studying theology is political theology.  Political theology, that is, the practical and the theoretical visions of what theology could be, is an attempt to reconcile theology with other academic disciplines and socio-political infrastructures.  In doing so, one is better apt to understand theology in the context of history, society, politics, economics, health, business, education, etc.  In short, the question of what it means to be a religious human being in the world is addressed more adequately.

The world we inhabit is neither secular nor religious.  Entities such as national governments, international institutions, multi-national corporations as well as the Church (or another religious institution) help form people’s conceptions on the world.  The world is both secular and religious.  It is a difficult concept to grasp as a theology student, though, since it is a dogmatic truth (being a Catholic!) that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.  I believe that anything different from this view is false.  But, as global citizens, Christians must understand that to live in the world, participation in civic events, the local and global economy, national politics, as well as the Eucharist, is not only necessary, but inevitable.  Even non-religious persons must encounter religious language that pervades modern society, albeit many times negatively. READ MORE

Listening and Development

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June 29, 2011

The voice of the displaced persons and communities is crucial for growth to ultimately blossom.  We conduct surveys every distribution day; there’s a survey with every house visit; the displaced population is present at all the events concerning the IDP situation in Florencia.  The attention and initiative is certainly there!  But, sometimes, the interactions seem artificial as one simply jots down or clicks away at the answer to a question.  The surveys must be that way, though, so that there are numbers and figures for IRD to measure the quality of the work being done.Development, in all senses of the word, requires progression.  Progression always entails a beginning and an end, a past and a future, as well as a stimulant that nurtures that growth.  For International Relief & Development in Florencia, development is nurturing.  Nurturing internally displaced persons and communities through health, education, and empowerment allows IRD to support families’ and communities’ progress from a bleak and anxiety-ridden past toward a more stabilized future.  The growth IRD hopes to see in beneficiaries is not one divergent from one’s past—and one’s identity—but one moving beyond one’s former troubles by re-establishing oneself through nutritional, social, and political integration. READ MORE

Conditions in the Invasiónes: Hospitality in an Inhospitable Place

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June 22, 2011

Me retrieving information from persons seeking humanitarian aid from IRD at the barrio of El Timi

Winter in Florencia is very different from winter in the northeast of the United States. There is no need for heavy coats, snow shovels or heaters here. Rather, one is well suited for the winter with a poncho, rain boots, and an umbrella. It rains almost all the time.  However, some days the temperature reaches 90 degrees with clear skies, which make for very, very hot days. I change shirts, socks, and sometimes pants every siesta because I’m either soaked from the rain or soaked from the sweat I worked up at IRD. There’s literally water everywhere—filling up potholes, causing rivers to rise several feet, seeping through house walls/tarps/wood that line people’s homes. But, like Coleridge penned, “nor any drop to drink.” READ MORE

Responsibility and Respect

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Jonathan Navas

Jonathan Navas

My current International Relief & Development (IRD) internship has allowed me to travel to Colombia for the first time. This is also my first time working with a non-governmental organization (NGO). In preparation for my seven-week internship in the city of Florencia, the capital of the department of Caquetá, I needed to grasp the principles that run an international NGO such as IRD. So, along with the other Emory interns, I attended a weeklong orientation at IRD’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. We learned much concerning IRD’s mission, goals and initiatives.

The province of Caquetá

Red area marks the province of Caquetá

All the interns then flew to their respective sites of work: Colombia, Laos, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

I have been in Colombia for nine days now (three days in Bogotá and six days in Florencia). My IRD partner, Lisandro, from the Rollins School of Public Health, and I met with IRD country directors for Colombia in Bogotá. IRD has two field offices, one in Tumaco, Nariño (Pacific Coast), and another in Florencia, Caqeutá (South). Tumaco and Florencia are cities containing large concentrations of internally displaced persons (IDP’s), largely composed of Afro-Colombians, Indigenous, and Mestizos (people from a mixed European and American Indian ancestry). Lisandro is stationed in Tumaco, which is largely Afro-Colombian, and I am in Florencia, which is largely Mestizo. READ MORE