By Milena Rincón, Program Director
A few months ago, I would never have imagined I would hear two partners sharing their experiences and struggles by only making a click! During the last months, our partners have witnessed how our physical accompaniment and presence, so meaningful and vital for their justice and peace efforts, have been abruptly transformed by a form of accompaniment from a distance. A "click" is now the entrance key to our partners' homes, struggles, and requests for a better life.
During the last six months, CPT's accompaniment has been limited to listening to our partners' stories, challenges, and demands. Missing is the warm welcome to their homes and offerings of fresh lemonade, tea, or coffee. Without a doubt, each of our partners and our teams has deeply missed those moments. We all look forward to renewing our visits and enjoying the feeling only old friends can experience when they meet again.
Since its creation, CPT has experienced critical and growing moments. This current crisis is again an invitation to think about the most effective forms of accompanying our partners in each one of CPT's locations. The process of thinking about accompaniment has allowed us to see what our strengths as an organization are and what new horizons we can see, in a world that insists on telling us there are no horizons.
Two decades ago, as CPT, we experienced a transformation of our protective accompaniment concept. We moved from foreign team members with passport privilege doing "overseas" work towards establishing accompaniment teams formed by nationals and foreign CPTers. CPT acknowledged the positive impact it has had on the accompanied communities and organizations, to see nationals and foreigners working together and supporting their struggles. This strategy was received, at the beginning, with some uncertainty by our partners, but time allowed CPT to enrich its work and our partners to increase their trust in the commitment of CPT's accompaniment.
More than one decade ago, CPT radically changed its accompaniment approach as a result of an in-depth, long, and critical reflection process about its role as an organization. Acknowledging that our work to support different groups and organization initiatives was based on our privilege, CPT decided to become an organization that, together with those accompanied by us, would intentionally create and support strategies to transform the violence and oppression affecting our partners.
For 35 years, we have not only been transformed by our partners, we have and continue to be transformed by new generations of CPTers reflecting the rich diversity of the human family in solidarity and accompaniment work.
So, what does the current context invite us to do? To continue accompanying in solidarity, to transform through liberating love. CPT has not doubted its mission for a second. Our partners have reaffirmed how important it is to continue creatively accompanying them. We cannot leave them alone. Their lives and the lives of millions continue to be deeply impacted by oppressive and violent structures taking away all opportunities. Our partners continue asking that their lives and human rights be respected and guaranteed.
For CPT to accompany our partners has involved increasing intentional communication with them and our supporters, and increasing advocacy work. Our partners’ voices must be heard. This work—making their struggle visible, communicating, and advocating for change as part of our accompaniment—needs You. They and CPT need your support, which can include reading our publications, joining our webinars, participating in the urgent actions and campaigns, reposting our communications, and liking them. What seem like simple actions – just one click! – are the actions that allow CPT and its partners in the United States, Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, Colombia, and Canada to continue working with strength and hope. Our partners are not alone. This solidarity is our core value as accompaniers.
During these times of physical distancing, our partners keep showing their powerful and radical resilience and strength and their hope for a different world. They keep inviting us to be part of a radical transformation, either by sharing a drink when we visit them or by joining CPT's webinars. Our partners continue resisting the Turkish army bombing of their homes and lands in northern Iraq; challenging the Israeli military occupation aiming to destroy and disappear them; surviving humiliating and confined living conditions while they search for a better life in Greece and United States; asking their ancestral rights as First Nations to be respected and the treaties being honored by Turtle Island (Canada and U.S.) authorities; defending their lives and their territories in Colombia.
Today, to be in solidarity and to accompany our partners is more critical than ever. CPT continues building partnerships and raising our voices together with our partners. We invite you to continue accompanying those communities and supporting our work, with just a click!