[Translation] Reality at the University

Catalina Restrepo was in class when the University of Antioquia was shaken by small explosions when disturbances and riots started last May 9th. Following, she tells her tale.

Well, I was going to post a while back but I hadn't found anything relevant that deserved to be written…

Today I'm back here again, trying to make words portray the fear that I felt yesterday while I was in the middle of a riot between the police and some university students.

I was in the Theory of Social Sciences class. The teacher had arrived at about 9:00 am and was somewhat angry because no-one was answering his questions, making it evident that very few of us had read the document we had as homework from the previous class.

It was close to 11:20 when several explosions were heard. The class continued and the teacher insisted that we should concentrate.

From one momento to the next, the explosions were closer together and people were leaving their class rooms looking for safer places, since the building where I am usually found is one of the most affected when events of this magnitude take place suddenly.

I had already come down from the third floor, but I remembered I had to deliver an assignment and I had to go back and get to the last floor to find the teacher's office… Quite scared, obviously.

After handing in the paper, the classmates I was with decided we should seek the University entrance that is closer to the Metro Station; but there were so many people that were coming out like opened flood gates from every single imaginable place, that we decided instead to sit down somewhere we could feel safe.

We hadn't been sitting even five minutes, when we saw up close some hooded and masked men and we even thought that they might be coming towards us. They moved on and some meters beyond they exploded something that made a very big noise.

Facing the prescence of these people, the people who minutes earlier had been conglomerated around an ATM machine looking at who knows what, left terrified; just like my classmates and myself at that moment, who seeing that those who were facing off with the police were so close, we quickly found a way to get out of the University.

Once I was outside, fear started invading me, the heat was terrible and a pounding headache wouldn't let me be. The bit of [tear] gas that I had to stand managed to affect me greatly…

Facing events like these I don't dare to take sides; but I will say that weapons used to make people feel stronger and braver are not the way to solve the problems for which they decide to fight.

After it all ended, the only thing left was anxiety. As far as I saw, nothing changed. The country didn't stop having internal refugees and the people who are unemployed, hungry and homeless are still the same ones.

I would like for someone to tell me what change took place yesterday among pipe bombs, firecrackers, stones and paint; because to tell you the truth, I didn´t see any.

We have started at Caldas

Last week we had our first meeting with the youth group Diverseres, will be the next group which will become part of our network. Diverseres is a groups of young people from the Caldas municipality, located south of Medellin, about a 30 minute bus ride from the last metro station.
Calles de Caldas
Calle del Comercio – Municipio de Caldas

In this first encounter we mainly had a conversation about expectations and possibilities regarding the citizen media training process. We also left with them a video camera and a stills camera so they could register their impressions of the Easter Week, the reinterpretation of it, the new practices and their implications. For the next meeting, we will begin the training part of the workshop, working upon the audiovisual material they will have prepared for us.

Diverseres has been working for the past two years in topics geared to other young people like them in their community. Their work has been around raising awareness among the youth in their community regarding sexuality, drug addiction and ecology. Now, with the use of online tools they are expectant of being able to publish  online accounts of their activities, promote their efforts through the internet and extend the results to other youth groups in  their town.

During our first meeting we were immersed in friendly and enriching conversation which made us think of the great stories that might come from such a vital group. In the meantime, we are satisfied by the enthusiasm which we felt during the first meeting and excited to become a part of the lives of Juan David, Dalia, Carolina, Catalina, Miguel, Dilan, Jhonny, Germán and all the other kids who will be working along with HiperBarrio.

Hiperbarrio bloggers followed the Peace Concert

The much talked about concert thought up by Medellín native Juan Esteban Aristizábal, better known as the pop-rock artist Juanes had famous guest artists and a massive assistance. On TV and online, HiperBarrio bloggers followed the event.

Chocolate moon from Qué piensas De.. wrote:


Ayer en el puente internacional Simón Bolívar se llevó a cabo un multitudinario concierto organizado por Juanes a favor de la paz entre los países vecinos luego de la crisis diplomática ocurrida por causa de los bombardeos de Colombia en territorio Ecuatoriano con el fin de acabar con uno de los campamentos mas grandes de las FARC.

Varios artistas amigos del “mensajero de la paz” (como algunos medios llamaron a Juanes), lo estuvieron acompañando en el concierto para de cierta manera apoyar a Colombia, Venezuela y Ecuador; estos artistas cantaron hasta el cansancio por la Paz, muchos de ellos tuvieron que tomar hasta 4 aviones para poder llegar a tiempo a la frontera, no importaba lo que se tuviera que hacer, lo importante era estar y demostrarle a el mundo entero que… LOS BUENOS SOMOS MÁS.

El concierto duró aproximadamente 5 horas, la multitudinaria asistencia que tuvo éste evento fue lo que mas animó a los artistas y al mismo Juanes que al finalizar la jornada agradeció enormemente a todos los asistentes tanto espectadores como cantantes el hecho de haberlo acompañado en ésta iniciativa por la Paz de su tierrita que tanto quiere.

El mundo entero fue testigo del gran evento que para muchos fue INOLVIDABLE…

Yesterday at the international Simon Bolivar bridge, a massive concert took place. Organized by Juanes on behalf of peace among neighboring countries after the diplomatic crisis which took place after Colombia bombed a FARC encampment inside the Ecuatorian borders.

Several of the “peace messenger's” friends (as the media decided to call Juanes), accompanied him at a concert which in a way was meant to support Colombia, Venezuela and ecuador; these artists sang until they dropped for Peace´s sake, some of them had to take as many as 4 planes to be able to reach the border on time, it didn´t matter what it took, the important thing was to be there and show the whole world that … the good ones outnumber the bad.

The concert lasted aproximately 5 hours, the massive assistance was one of the things that cheered the artists and Juanes himself, who at the end of the event greatly thanked everyone present: both spectators as well as singers for accompanying him in this Peace innitiative for the homeland he loves so.

The whole world bore witness to thiss great event which for many was unforgettable.

Carolina decided to experiment with microblogging formats, and twitted the concert, informing everyone of what was going on in real time. You can read it on her twitter page.

More information on the Peace Concert can be found here.

Medelink Contacts

One of the great things about going to Medelink was the networking possibilities. Today I went to a meeting with a Rotaract group, interested in having us give workshops at a school they've been working with on a rural area outside of Caldas, to the south of Medellín. It´s great to meet other young people interested in making changes in society, who do community service and who see it as a natural extension of a well rounded human being.  They were very attentive as I told them about HiperBarrio and the changes it has wrought not only on the participants but also on the communities.

The tentative date to start blog workshops at this school depends on when they´ll have their computer room completely established at the school. When this part of the program kicks off, it will signify the second stage of Hiperbarrio: ex beneficiaries will go to other communities and train other young people in citizen media, and they´ll even get paid a symbolic amount for their work.

We believe new participants will get a lot more motivated if they see that there is a tangible economic benefit in learning these new citizen media tools. It will perhaps provide the extra push to get them to buy into collaboration and writing to share, and forego the drop out rates we´ve seen happen in other projects. If they see youth like them, with similar backgrounds and who started off at the same level of computer knowledge  giving them the course material and getting paid… they´ll be able to model themselves after them, and get excited about their stories. It will also benefit the past participants who will be able to share their knowledge and experiences. It's a win-win situation.

We will be meeting with the school's principal after Easter break. The idea is that he'll sit in one of the new Caldas workshops we'll be starting this week to see what it is exactly that we plan to do at his school. From what I've been told, he sounds very much like our Hiperbarrio La Loma Librarian… someone giving, dedicated, hardworking and who cares about the community where he works. The principal has mentioned that he is interested in having the new computer lab at school open on weekends and after school so students and community members can use them and internet services: I can picture the future Salinas-Caldas participants working on weekends at the computer lab, blogging and writing and teaching others.  If it works out, then it will spread to other rotaract clubs in other areas of the Medellin Metro area. It's great to see this project start walking on its own two feet into sustainability.

HiperBarrio in Medelink 2008

Translation of post by Jorge Montoya on hiperbarrio.org [ES]

CatiRestrepo Hablando del proyectoOnMarch 7th and 8th the Digital Culture  Festival in Medellín took place, Medelink 2008 [ES] . We were there representing our project. The main objective we drew for our presence there was to bring more people into our project of sharing knowledge with as many people as possible.

Two whole days standing behind a table, where some participants from previous workshops talked about their experiences and motivated others to join our network. AS a result, we know have a database where we have collected  a good number of people willing to be either facilitators or give workshops, and others who are interested in taking the workshops themselves and help the hiperbarrio family grow.

We also met with people belonging to local innitiatives who expressed the desire to join this project which bit by bit has stopped belonging to us and know belongs to everyone. We already have scheduled appointments with these organizations to see how we can work with their needs and what will be the steps to follow.

After this event, we are left with a positive balance regarding expectations and achievements. We need to look towards the future which will surely also bring great satisfaction to those of us who believe that we are doing useful, worthy and worthwhile work.

To each and everyone who has expressed their support, to those who volunteered, to those who are waiting to be a part of this process, to the Medelink organizers and the HiperBarrio team who were those two days telling their stories in person: Thanks!


More about the event:

HiperBarrio Poet-Bloggers Celebrate International Women's Day

In celebration of International Women's Day, Rising Voices grantee and Nari Jibon founder, Kathryn Ward, came up with the idea of a friendly poetry competition among Rising Voices bloggers. Participants of the ten citizen media outreach projects were given a week to write and submit their poems related to the theme “women hold up half the sky.”

Two HiperBarrio participants, Carolina Vélez López and Yesenia Corrales, submitted the following entries:


¿Moriré en vida?
Ya el frío me congela
Ya la razón se anestesia en la ilusión.
La oscuridad enceguece mi vida y la cara de todos aquellos seres queridos que me esperan.
Quien creyera, unas simples rejas me resguardan,
Quien lo viera, la dignidad se fuga al ver que le han impuesto cadenas,
Quien pensaría, que reconocer el error es enmendar y de nuevo comenzar.

De brazos cruzados suspiro mi silencio, nuestro silencio y el silencio de aquellas mujeres que anhelan dia a dia ser marcadas con resaltador, por la sociedad que las limitó a no ser nadie,
A ser polvo de hoguera
A darnos vida cuando nos recuerdan.

Talvez doy asco, porque me repugnan estas 4 paredes
Aquí si, aquí donde se extingue a la escoria hay un mundo,
Un planeta donde se hace lo posible por sobrevivir.

No todas tienen ideales, porque tiempo atrás en la clase de la vida,
Aprendieron a desvincular sus sentimientos, sus hijos, sus remordimientos.

¿Qué puedo decir? ¿Qué les puedo decir?

A este lado la monotonía es un himno, pero tiempo después recupero mi libertad,
Recupero mis lágrimas que resbalan una a una en aquella piel que envejece
Y agradece haber “SALIDO DE LA CARCÈL”

Todos tenemos una cárcel,
Todos tenemos un dia a dia
Y no todas pensamos y decidimos estar en una cárcel…

Will I die alive?
Freezing cold
With reason anesthetized by illusion.
Darkness shadows my life and the faces of the loved ones that await me.
Who would believe, some simple bars guard me
Who would see, dignity fleeing at the site of chains,
Who would think, that to recognize a mistake is to amend and start over.

With crossed arms I sigh my silence, our silence, and the silence of all women who yearn every day to stand out, by a society that limits them to be a no one,
To be ash of a fire
To give us life when we are remembered.

Perhaps I'm nauseating, because these four walls disgust me
Right here, here where they sweep up all the scum there is a world,
A planet where you do all that is possible to survive.

Not everyone has ideals, because some time ago in the classroom of life,
They learned to separate their feelings, their children, their remorse.

What can I say? What can I tell them?

On this side the monotony is a hymn, but some time later I will recuperate my freedom,
Recovering my tears which slip down this aging skin one by one
And feel grateful for having beeen “LET OUT OF PRISON”

We all have a prison
We all have a day to day
And we didn't all think and decide to be in a prison …

Yesenia Corrales

Convergentes – HiperBarrio


EL SER MUJER (original)

En un principio, aún incierto, apareció la mujer, un ser creado fibra a fibra de azúcar, adornado con tanto hilos dorados como sentimientos, un ser que se derrite con cada palabra que infunde fuego en ella, y que se enfría, levantando la pared más fuerte, con aquellas que llegan como témpano ante ella. Luego, aparece aquella cubierta que es más que piel, una cubierta conductora de emociones, de latidos, de vibraciones. Y apareció la mujer, y con ella la dulzura de las cosas hechas con la delicadeza que nada más se encuentra en ese ser.

BEING A WOMAN (literally)

In a beginning, uncertain yet, the woman appeared, a being created of sugar fibre by fibre, adorned with so many golden threads like feelings, a being that melts with every word that infuses fire in her, and that cools, raising the strongest wall, with those [words] that arrive like icebergs before her. Then, it appears that cover that is more than skin, a cover conductor of emotions, [heart] beats, vibrations. And it appeared the woman, and with her the sweetness of the things done with the delicacy that can only be found in that being.

THE WOMAN BEING (non-literally)

In a beginning, uncertain yet, appeared the woman, a being created fibre by fibre of sugar, adorned with so many golden threads as emotions, a being that melts down with every word that infuses fire in her, and that freezes, raising the strongest wall, with those that arrive like icebergs upon her. Then, that cover appears, it's more than just skin, it's a conductor of emotions, of beatings, of vibrations. And the woman appeared, and with her the sweetness of the things made with the delicacy that can only be found in that being.

Poem by: Camila Urrea Morales (Colombia)

Translated by: Carolina Vélez López

Hiperbarrio: Community comes together for a local personality

At la Loma, the hiperbarrio team has taken it to help out their community member, Manuel Salvador Pizarro Sierra  better known as Suso.

 First, for a bit of background, we have the feature story written on the Rising Voices blog by David Sasaki:

In San Javier La Loma, a hillside working class community on the outskirts of Medellín, one of the most well-known local celebrities, “Filthy Suso”, had, until recently, also been one of the most enigmatic. Thanks to the work of HiperBarrio, a citizen journalism outreach project of Rising Voices, the story of “Filthy Suso” is now known both locally and internationally. Led by Yuliana Isabel Paniagua Cano, Catalina Restrepo Martínez, and Gabriel Jaime Venegas, the collective of new citizen journalists created both a video and article about “Filthy Suso’, La Loma’s local collector of recyclables. Below are both the video and text, translated from the original Spanish versions. It is worth noting that HiperBarrio’s article on Suso was also published on the front page of the weekly local newspaper, Conexion.

You can read the fully translated article on the Rising Voices blog. The following video was made by the Hiperbarrio participants to document Suso´s history and was subtitled through dot.sub:

Gabriel Jaime writes about a fund raiser which took place last week in their community, trying to gather enough cash to build Suso a deserving home:

Se ha logrado cambiar la imagen empobrecida y miope que se tenia de Manuel Salvador Pizarro por una de reconocimiento, respeto, dignidad y gratitud que merece; al tiempo que se encuentran nuevas significaciones del papel de su familia y el suyo propio en la historia local.

Esta vereda unida por una causa, nos ayuda entender el valor que ha tenido el trabajo comunitario en la construcción del destino de nuestros pueblos.

El día que Suso nos falte, no se ira al olvido, quedara grabado en el imaginario de miles de personas que lo conocen, no solo en su comunidad sino en el mundo entero gracias al Internet, la prensa escrita y al voz a voz que ya convirtió esta historia en el mito de “El Suso”.

Lo más importante de este proceso es que comienza a regenerar el tejido social roto por la violencia que tantos estragos provoca, aun hoy, en la existencia de las personas que habitan esta vereda y que solo sueñan con vivir en paz al lado de su familia y las personas que aman.

We have managed to change the poor and miopic image that people had of Manuel Salvador Pizarro for one of recognition, respect, dignity and well deserved gratitude; at the same time that new meanings are being found of the role his family and himself have played on the local history.

This bourrough which came together for a cause, helped us understand the value that community work has had on the construction of our people's destiny.

The day Suso is no longer with us, he won't be forgotten. He'll be branded on the minds of thousands of people who know of him, not only in his community but throughout the world thanks to Internet, written press and word of mouth which made this story the “Suso” myth.

The most important aspect of this process is that the broken social makeup of our people, damanged by violence which causes so much pain, is being mended. People who'se only desire is to live in peace with their families and the people they love.

Carmen Elena Paniagua, better known for her online nickname of Camela, wrote a beautiful poem in her blog Baúl de Letras in honor of Suso, recording the day his old home was demolished to make room for the new one;


Por última vez el viento silbará entre lal tapias;

los muros centenarios y leales morirán con sus secretos.

La historia, reducida a meras partículas de polvo, solo quedará grabada en la memoria cansada de un viejo.

Con cada golpe de la almádena, su corazón se estremecerá y evocará un recuerdo; una añoranza de pantalones cortos, de pies descalzos, de bigotes de leche y cocechas de café.

Su mirada parcial, se detendrá dulcemente en un éxode de cucarachas; y de las ruinas rescatará las antiguas llaves de la casa y las guardará en su bolsillo, tal vez para abrir la puerta del pasado en una noche de reminiscencias.

Ya no las paredes desatarán su coloquio en las noches, fidedignos relatos que en el espesor del barro se escondían de la luz del día;

ya no los bacanales de extrovertidos fantasmas;

ya no los abrazos íntimos con la soledad;

ya no las anotaciones que a falta de papel, se esculpían en los muros terrosos.

Ahora solo hay escombros; una vida regada por los suelos; los pedazos de una existencia, que se rompe al final de una honda caída.


For the last time, the wind will blow between the walls,

those centenary and loyal walls will die with their secrets.

History, reduced to mere dust particles, will only remain recorded in the tired memory of an old man.

With each strike of the sledgehammer, his heart will shiver and a memory will come up; yearnings for short pants, bare feet, milk moustaches and coffee picking.

His partial sight will sweetly stop on the cockroach exodus; from the ruins he'll rescue the old keys to his house and will put them in his pocket, perhaps to open a door into the past on a night full of memories.

No more shall the walls untie their evening conversations, faithful stories that hide within the thick mud walls during the daytime;

No more shall the extrovert ghostly parties take place;

No more the intimate hugs with solitude;

no more the note taking that due to a lack of paper were sculpted on the dirt walls.

Now there is only rubble; a life scattered on the ground; pieces of someone's existence bronken at the end of a long fall.

A video taken by David Sasaki when he met Suso can be found on his blog as well.

January has been a busy month for Hiperbarrio

After the wonderful presentation up at la Loma de San Javier, many of the blog posts that the participants wrote were included in Equinoxio magazine, and David Sasaki also wrote about it, giving his firsthand account of what it was like to share the day with the people from La Loma, both participants, family and other community members. You can read that article by following this link.

This community presentation also opened other doors: la Redecom, the alternative media network has approached us and they´re interested in working with us to jumpstart the network and give the members proper citizen media training and a better online presence.

Participantes del taller en la Biblioteca Pública Piloto

Learning how to use flickr during the BPP workshop.

This week, David Sasaki, Director of Outreach for Global Voices, and the person behind Rising Voices, has been giving a couple of workshops in the Pilot Public Library. The first one, yesterday, had to do with opening a flickr account and uploading pictures, as well as joining groups, and David created one specifically for the workshop, adding notes, placing pictures on a map and commenting on other pictures. Today´s workshop will be a continuation of yesterday´s, where participants will learn how to edit pictures with picnik.Next week, we have two important meetings: on one with we will also meet with Medellín Digital, a government effort to improve computer literacy and to check out if we can participate in their annual fair in February, the other one is with Medelink, who organizes a yearly digital culture festival during March, and in which we hope to participate.

Hiperbarrio is growing, and it´s great to see how far we´ve come.

Closing Ceremony for Hiperbarrio 2007

On December 18th 2007, our Hiperbarrio closing ceremony took place. We got together at the auditorium in the Library Park Presbítero José Luis Arroyave in San Javier. Gathered were both teams of coordinators from the two Hiperbarrio proyects in the city of Medellín: the one in La Loma de San Javier and the ones in Santo Domingo.

The Library Network, who arranged for us to have the auditorium and the VideoBeam were present, and Dr. Piedad Aguilar, who directs the Library Network spoke at the beginning of the event to show her admiration for the work that has been done. David Sasaki, one of our biggest fans, who also happens to be Director of Outreach for Rising Voices, the organization that fathered our project and supports us through a micro-grant was also present. Global Voices author Eduardo Ávila, who runs the Voces Bolivianas Rising Voices project in Bolivia was also present.

We had slideshow presentations with pictures that the participants took as well as videos and multimedia presentations of the work that was done during the whole process of new media technology training.

As the evening progressed, both participants and organizers started talking about the project, their experiences, and the steps that should be taken into the future, speaking out about weaknesses in the projects and dreaming about what we would like to see in the future. The main problems mentioned were technical issues like internet connection speed and the lack of a stable connection when we work. Some participants who went to the Santo Domingo workshops from afar mentioned transportation costs as one of the problems.
Milthon from La Loma and Alejandra from Santo Domingo
Milthon, a La Loma participant who writes in his blog Helelbensahar, as Akenaton, presented us with an entertaining clown sketch. In the picture, he can be seen joking around with Alejandra. After that we all had some refreshments and milled around, later moving the casual conversations outside to continue talking after the library closed.

Edit: Please view our Hiperbarrio.org article in Spanish, with different pictures of the event, kindly taken by David Sasaki.