Storytelling for peace building

By Honor Scott May 5, 2019
The mobile museum is lifting stories of the page and bringing them to life. Photo: Poliedro

This initiative gives voice to young people’s experience of conflict through comics and illustrations.

The process of peace building in Colombia is hardly an uncommon topic of conversation, particularly at a national event like FILBo. But – as Johanna Pinzón, director of digital innovation agency Poliedro, points out – the dialogue about peace is so often “not for young people,” and tends to prioritise the political over personal experience.

It is this the British Council, in collaboration with Poliedro and PLAN foundation, hopes to change with Storytelling for Peace Building. The project aims to raise awareness of the effects of conflict on the younger generation, to encourage and enable them to talk about their experience.

Four months of workshops in the Chocó, Cartagena and Cauca regions gave 80 children and young people aged between 12 and 23 the opportunity to do so. Following the workshops, 17 of the stories were chosen to create Colombia’s first digital comic for peace. Accompanied by illustrations from Mierdinsky and Juan Sin Miedo, they make up a diverse collection of resilience, forgiveness and positive transformation, which can be read in both Spanish and English on the Storytelling for Peace Building website.

Related: Reconciliation: ‘Not easy, but not impossible’

The rationale for presenting the stories in comic form was because it would appeal to a younger generation, – make them readable as well as relatable. Mierdinsky also pointed out that illustration has the capacity to amplify the impact of the words it accompanies – “to empower their stories” in the same way that telling them can empower the narrators themselves.

The project might have been “born out of literature,” but it crossed the border into illustration and onto the internet, and it now moves into a physical space. FILBo has seen the launch of Storytelling for Peace Building’s mobile museum, an interactive embodiment of its online content. In the future the museum will be tour the country, and in particular be taken to the communities from which the narratives it presents originate. In this way the project aims to be create a “circle”, returning this history to the people to whom it belongs, and allowing them to see the power of their voices translated into something that young people from around the world can relate to, and take inspiration from.

The website and the museum are creating a space of memory, both for these individuals and for the nation, and aim to be a catalyst for a form storytelling which will continue to develop and expand. Another 24 stories will soon be illustrated and be ready to be shared.

Whilst peace is topic of national interest, it must begin internally, explained project manager Paula Silvia at FILBo. “If you aren’t at peace with yourself, you’ll never be at peace with others.” And this must start by giving people the space and the tools with which to express themselves, in order to come to terms with the past and look to the future – a future that this younger generation will, after all, be the one building.

The Storytelling for Peace Building mobile museum is open to visitors every day of FILBo. Visit the website at