Elizabeth Garcia Carrillo | Development and Peace

Elizabeth Garcia Carrillo

When you’re a refugee, you’ve had to flee to save all you have left: your life and the lives of those you love.

I arrived in Canada in 2009 with my whole family. As the days went by, I felt more and more like the living dead. I could not sleep peacefully, thinking that I had acted in a cowardly manner by abandoning all those I cared about most in Colombia: women's organizations, Afro-descendants, peasants and, of course, my people, the residents of Arhuaco of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

I learned of Development and Peace while in Colombia through its support to social movements. I felt the organization’s guiding hand in many of our struggles, but I never wondered where the money that allowed for this support came from. Why did these people decide to walk with us?

When I joined the Quebec City Development and Peace group, my life changed. My future was clearer. I told myself that by the will of God, I was called upon to be a bridge that connects hearts in the North and South.

I’m also a lawyer. For me, the law is a way of making people and communities that have divergent points of view on the same issue and who cannot understand each other, come together. In my community, I act as a mediator, helping newcomers become familiar with the Canadian system. We want to integrate into Quebec society, to promote coexistence and prevent prejudices from gaining ground in our lives.

Now as President of the Diocesan Council of Quebec City, I have an opportunity to speak about my reality and that of my people, and I can say to members of Development and Peace that while sharing money is important, sharing solidarity saves lives. In fact, I feel that Development and Peace saved my life!


What does dialogue mean to you?

Through dialogue, we can find the truth. Let’s imagine that the truth is a mirror, with a number of people around it. This mirror has always been fixed to the wall, and everyone who looks into it sees the same image. However, one day, the mirror falls and breaks into many pieces. All the people who were in front of the mirror decide to take a piece. What do they see then? Does the person who took the biggest piece hold most of the truth? Are the small pieces of minor importance?

No matter the shape or size of the segment of the mirror each person holds, all pieces are part of the same mirror, of the same truth. There are no larger or smaller truths, just as there is no single or absolute truth. To engage in dialogue is to recognize that the pieces of mirror that other people hold are also connected to the piece that I possess. Only when all the pieces are brought together can we rediscover the mirror we once knew. We must be able to recognize ourselves in the truths of others, in their piece of the mirror. That's what dialogue is all about!