Colombia Peacebuilding Project

$18,680 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 83 people in 8 months
Created December 6, 2018
*Scroll Down for a July 2019 Update*


Until recently, Colombia had been struggling through one of the longest armed conflicts in the world. However, a peacebuilding process is currently underway in which ex-soldiers are returning to civilian life.


In order for ex-soldiers to successfully transition into civilian life, there is a need to offer cheap and accessible psychological support for ex-soldiers seeking healing, belonging, and agency in a transforming society.  This requires the creative use of a variety of tools for promoting well-being and emotional resilience.

With your help, we will refine and implement a FULLY FUNDED program for ex-soldiers that offers psychological support and peacebuilding, bringing together evidence-based meditation practices used in clinical contexts (such as mindfulness and compassion-based practices), a liberatory anti-oppressive education, and Indigenous Colombian contemplative practices.

The results from these cycles will be evaluated using a combination of qualitative and quantitative tools in a culturally sensitive and participatory research design. This data will be used to refine this program and to produce a manual for this novel contemplative and liberatory learning approach to peacebuilding. Not only will this program then continue to support ex-soldiers in Colombia but the manual we develop can have global impact for other peacebuilding contexts.

Impact Beyond Colombia:

We believe that this program may be useful beyond peacebuilding, as a tool for promoting personal and collective healing, and liberation from systemic violence. It is our hope that through this work we can break new ground in demonstrating the importance of well-being, resilience, and peace of individuals for the well-being, resilience, and peace of a country. This understanding may be of critical importance as we prepare to address the complex challenges facing our planet in the coming decades.

Who we are:
This project is being led by Juliana M Santoyo and Juan F Santoyo, a sibling team with combined expertise in education, diversity and equity work, neuroscience research, and contemplative models for healing. We are both mixed race, Colombian natives who emigrated to the United States with our single mother, having been displaced by the armed conflict in our country. We have both been fortunate enough to have had opportunities to access  higher education institutions, and we aim to use this access to intellectual and institutional resources to make space for the voices and the healing of the people most marginalized and under-resourced in the midst of systemic violence.

Why we need your support:

While we have both had access to higher education and the resources that come with this, we have little financial capital to fund our livelihoods while we undertake this project. We have received small grants to cover material costs for our program, but we are still short of the full funds needed for the program itself as well as to support the organizers and staff of this project. The sustainability of this project greatly depends on our ability to sustain ourselves while we do this much needed work as we are FULLY COVERING PROGRAM AND MATERIAL COSTS FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS. Crowdfunding campaigns offer a democratic way for folks to support liberatory work and an opportunity for people to leverage their financial resources to fund creative new approaches for addressing systemic inequity.

All donations are tax deductible as this project is being sponsored by the Courage of Care Coalition.

For more information on this project, please visit our website here.



Hasta hace poco, Colombia estuvo inmersa en unos de los conflictos armados más prolongados de la historia reciente a nivel mundial. Actualmente, un proceso de paz con las FARC, el cual incluye la desmilitarización y la reintegración social de los excombatientes.

Para la exitosa transición a la vida civil, es necesario ofrecer apoyo psicosocial y económicamente accesible a los ex-combatientes que buscan participar y ser incluidos en una sociedad en transformación. Esto requiere el empleo de una amplia gama de herramientas que promuevan la resiliencia emocional de estas personas.

Con tus aportes, nosotros vamos a desarrollar e implementar un programa de apoyo psicosocial que combina prácticas de meditación  utilizadas en programas basados en evidencia científica (como la Meditación con Atención Plena y la meditación de Amor Bondadoso y Compasión de origen budista), un programa educativo liberador contra la opresión y prácticas contemplativas propias de tradiciones indígenas colombianas.

Los resultados del proyecto serán evaluados a través de metodologias de investigacion cualitativas, métricas neuropsicológicas cuantitativas, y medidas fisiologicas. Los datos serán utilizados para verificar la eficacia de este programa en el contexto de la reintegración y para producir  un manual para que los talleres puedan ser replicados en cualquier otro lugar de Colombia, así como en otros contextos globales.

En este sentido, el proyecto que proponemos pondrá a disposición de los excombatientes un programa terapéutico  y reintegrador. El proyecto busca ser auto sostenible con la posibilidad de ser replicado automáticamente en el mediano plazo. Pondrá a disponibilidad de los excombatientes los recursos y las enseñanzas para que puedan convertirse en maestros de meditación una vez haya concluido su proceso terapéutico. Esto ampliará la planta docente y, en consecuencia, la capacidad del programa para atender a nuevos participantes.


El desarrollo de este programa y su implementación en la ciudad de Medellín puede dar como resultado un programa y estrategia novedosas que pudieran ser replicados en otros contextos y países donde se requiera procesos de sanación mental y espiritual y reintegración psicosocial, pero también podría ser útil para individuos que requieran otro tipo de intervención sanadora no necesariamente vinculada a procesos de paz y reintegración.

Este proyecto propone  el encuentro y uso de prácticas tradicionales budistas y nativas para sanar y promover un sentido de responsabilidad con la sostenibilidad de la paz por medio la sanación psicológica individual  integrada a una conciencia ecológica y sociopolítica.

El desarrollo e implementación de este programa en Colombia puede ofrecer un conocimiento importante sobre el uso de prácticas contemplativas para la promoción de cualidades mentales y emocionales que aporten a la transformación individual y social. Como resultado, creemos que este trabajo puede abrir nuevos caminos en la demostración de que el bienestar, la resiliencia, y la paz de las personas individuales son necesarias para el bienestar, la resiliencia y la paz de una nación. Esta comprensión es de vital importancia en la preparación para enfrentar los enormes desafíos que tenemos como humanidad a nivel planetario en este siglo.

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Hi again,

We also wanted to share this blog post that we recently wrote with everyone, going a bit more deeply into what brought us to this work, our philosophy, and some of the lessons we've learned so far:
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Hi everyone!

We wanted to let everyone that donated so far know that we recently posted an update on this project’s progress on the main page of the gofundme (and copied below) and also, that we’re working on a new fundraising push from now until mid August!

We want to again deeply thank everyone that has contributed so far-- because of your generous support we now have the funding we need to deliver our program for five cycles between now and the end of 2020 during which we will carry out research to evaluate and refine the program.

We raised our fundraising target to $30,000 and are making this new push to ensure the sustainability of this program after our research ends. It’s vital that the program that we develop can continue to be offered in Colombia as long as it is providing valuable support and this new target will allow us to ensure a minimum of two years of sustainability for the program.

If you’d like to help us out just a bit more, please share this crowdfunding page wherever you can and help us to get the last bit of support we need.

And here is our July 2019 update:

We also wanted to share that we recently wrapped up a pilot run of the program which ran from March to May with a cohort of 6 people and consisted of 3-hour long weekly meetings over the course of ten weeks, including a beautiful weekend retreat to the Colombian countryside. This pilot run allowed us to test the unique combination of learning elements for the first time, bringing together principles from clinical meditation based programs, liberatory pedagogies, and contemplative practices from indigenous Colombian traditions.

We learned about and explored the roots of stress and trauma in our lives, the relation of stress and trauma to systemic sociopolitical forces, and sowed seeds for transformation through mindfulness and compasssion-based meditation, ritual, and dialogue about our shared connection to land and ancestors. Most importantly, we began weaving together the initial community structure that will support the program into the future through the combined leadership of ex-combatants, meditation teachers, indigenous leaders, and researchers.

It was incredibly fun and rewarding to experience the program coming to life and we felt very reassured by the cohesiveness of the curriculum and the unique impact we saw in our pilot cohort. We’re currently preparing for another cycle of the program set to begin at the start of September and during which we will begin to collect an array of data to be able to rigorously assess the effects of the program.

None of this would be possible without the incredible support we've gotten so far so we want to thank everyone that has been able to donate or simply share this campaign on their social media. Most importantly, the encouragement and support we have felt from our friends and community has been a beautiful source of joy and nourishment in this work.

Thanks again!
Juan and Juliana
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$18,680 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 83 people in 8 months
Created December 6, 2018
Funds raised will benefit:
Courage of Care
Certified Charity
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Oakland, CA
EIN: 475645962
How it Works
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* If, after reasonable efforts, PayPal Giving Fund cannot deliver donations to this charity, the funds may be donated to another charity per PayPal Giving Fund’s policies.
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Shalini Pammal
27 days ago
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1 month ago
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