“Did I escape from the violence in my home country only to suffer another kind of violence here?” a Colombian refugee wondered to David Sulewski, an MCC worker in a refugee project in Ecuador.
When people flee from home to new cities or communities, they are isolated from the routines and protections of their communities and face new dangers — often including violence.
“We encounter many refugees who have suffered from sexual violence not only when they were persecuted and compelled to flee Colombia, their flight across the border into Ecuador where they continue to face the risk of sexual- and gender-based violence,” notes Sulewski. Sulewski and his wife Tibrine da Fonseca, of Boston, Mass., work in an Ecuadoran Mennonite project to reach out to refugees in Quito.
In December 2015, MCC and other organizations joined to sponsor a Colombian women’s group that is working actively against violence to come to Quito, Ecuador, to share their experiences with project participants.
“It is impossible to forget what has happened to us,” one of the presenters told the group, “but the fear with which we live unites us as women and compels us to continue our struggle . . . . ”