For populations that have experienced trauma or violence, healing is a crucial step toward social and economic stability. Many Colombians have been forced into illicit activities, been victimized by armed conflict, or been affected by gender-based violence. Add to this the more than a million Venezuelan migrants who have entered the country in recent years, and the need for conflict resolution and social inclusion is greater than ever.

How does Colombia recover from decades of internal conflict? How does it reconcile communities isolated by underlying mistrust?

DecidoSer: A psychosocial tool for reconciliation

DecidoSer is a methodology for providing psychosocial support. ACDI/VOCA first applied DecidoSer with armed conflict victims from ethnic communities in the Pacific region during our USAID-funded Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Program, which concluded in 2016. The methodology later grew into a crosscutting tool, which promotes dialogue, empowerment, trust, and respect, during our current USAID-funded Program of Alliances for Reconciliation in Colombia. DecidoSer workshops focus on building life skills, workforce readiness, emotional intelligence, and reflection on the collective memory to help workshop participants become agents of change for moving Colombian society toward reconciliation.

“There were some neighbors who had not spoken for years because of a small dispute that had grown into something bigger. The DecidoSer workshops helped to improve community relationships as people began to forgive and we learned to accept our differences.”

– Luz Estela Sogamozo, Caquetá

This approach is all about personal growth for participants who become empowered to address violence and intolerance in their communities. “Change starts with me,” is a slogan often heard in DecidoSer workshops. That change, when amplified, has the power to destigmatize regions and create new narratives.

How do you measure reconciliation?

The Program of Alliances for Reconciliation team uses both qualitative and quantitative monitoring and evaluation. Various surveys of practices and perceptions capture information about participants’ perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors around key variables, as shown in the chart below.

Applying DecidoSer in the Private Sector and Abroad

Private sector companies in Colombia are also seeing the benefits of DecidoSer in building crucial soft skills among employees and increasing staff retention rates. Major corporations like Texmodas, Anadarko, Diageo, and PepsiCo are among the 90 partners now using DecidoSer, along with government offices, such as the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá and Agencia Nacional de Tierras [National Land Agency]. Projects implemented by the ACDI/VOCA affiliate Fundación ACDI/VOCA Latin America are also applying the tool.

To broaden its use, an updated 2.0 version of the tool will shift the focus of the tool from the four pillars addressed under PAR (dialogue, empowerment, trust, and respect) to a more skill-based framework, that will be applicable in other contexts, both in Colombia and in other countries.

DecidoSer has reached 20,000 participants of ACDI/VOCA programs in Colombia. Can you imagine how a tool like DecidoSer could help solve issues you are facing in your work or community? Tell us how!

Watch this video to learn more about DecidoSer.

Learn more about the Program of Alliances for Reconciliation.