Youth are kept on the margins of society in urban areas where violence and gang activity is high. Organizations and individuals who focus on community youth development and conflict resolution can transform violence into peace.
The film Barrio de Paz documents the work of Nelsa Curbelo, a 70-year-old former nun who founded the organization Ser Paz (Being Peace) in 1999 in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Guayaquil is the largest and most populous city in Ecuador with 2.69 million people. Nelsa is a proponent of non-violence who has fought for indigenous peoples' rights and worked as a mediator in armed conflicts throughout South America. The mission of Ser Paz is to work with youth gangs in Ecuador's southern city of Guayaquil and to help them reintegrate into society by providing them with education and professional training. Through her work, many of Guayaquil's most dangerous gangs have disarmed, agreed to abandon violence, and are now working together to rebuild the community.
Members of rival gangs have come together to form print shops, music studios, and pizzerias, which offer alternative economic opportunities to underserved neighborhoods and provides youth with outlets for creative expression. Ser Paz is a positive model for working with marginalized youth everywhere. Nelsa, in Barrio de Paz, helps youth channel their needs for unity, structure, and love into empowered participation within society.
Connections to National Standards
Common Core English Language Arts. SL.9-10.1 and SL.11-12.1. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 [or 11-12] topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Common Core English Language Arts. SL.11-12.1.c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.Geo.5.9-12. Evaluate how political and economic decisions throughout time have influenced cultural and environmental characteristics of various places and regions.