IN COMMUNE 13, WE TRANSFORM THROUGH ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS
“Tourism changes everything. We made millions of people come to commune 13, and we told them the beautiful face of it. They go out and reproduce that message. "
Before knowing that the Mayor's Office of Medellín would build an escalator in the middle of the alleys that hundreds of inhabitants of the 13th commune of Medellín traveled, Carlos Alberto Sánchez, known as Nene, had already started doing social tourism. He was looking for personalities from all over the world to go to the commune and get to know the organization he had founded, Asociación Afrocolombiana Son Batá, which has the mission of changing the realities of children and adolescents in the commune, through art and culture.
Along the way, he told people the story of commune 13, how it was founded, what had happened to people, and how its inhabitants are an example of resilience for everyone.
Then he created Afrotur, his current venture. With it, he promotes the entire tourism industry that is consolidating in the commune. He directs ventures, he is a guide and he trains others as well so that they can tell the story of their community. Their tours are differentiating. He has a look that shows social transformation through art, hip hop, drums and all kinds of cultural initiatives.
Today the difficult public health situation arising from the new coronavirus threatens to destroy what Nene has built with so much effort and dedication.
How did tourism change your life?
It is a very cool question that answers what we have been and what we have always dreamed of. We have always dreamed of changing the face and image of commune 13. Generally, commune 13 is related in people's minds as violence, war, guerrilla. The truth is another. Although we have lived through a history of violence, we also have millions of beautiful stories of love and hope. Here are more good than bad. Tourism changes everything, because it gave us the tool to show the beautiful face of the commune to millions of people.
We carry the message to the world that if commune 13 can, anyone can. We send this message through each person who visits us. We send it in a unique and creative way, with hip hop dances and artistic expressions.
Tourism has not only changed my life, but the lives of many others.
Why do you think it is important to preserve the tourism that you do?
For many reasons. First, the benefits that tourism has brought to the entire community. For example women up to 50 years old, who had only worked as housewives, have found their potential. Some are the best guides, others are local leaders.
It has also given us the opportunity to learn new skills like other languages. Furthermore, tourism has united us as a community. We have learned to work as a team and to communicate with each other.
Many of the people who arrive do not just come for a walk but leave us a little of who they are. I have met wonderful people who want to contribute to the dreams that are built within Commune 13.
What we do is important to preserve because it allows us human beings to meet new cultures, new people and to know how the other person is. When we learn about other experiences we become more resilient. Someone who visits Commune 13 is a witness that here we are strong, that we get ahead, that we are humble, and that although we live in extreme conditions we know how to do our part.
People who come out are transformed just like in other places, paradigms and imaginations that one has about places are broken.
How has this situation affected you?
We have been affected by the economic issue. It has been one of the most difficult situations we have had. But this has also gave me an opportunity to see where I am weak and how I can improve. This has shown me how I can get better on my organization. Without this time I would not have come up with ideas that I now want to develop.
Despite the fact that Nene is a warrior who has overcome each of the obstacles for many years, today he needs us to give him hope to continue doing his work. Buy now a tour with Afrotur and redeem it before December 1, 2021. So Nene will continue to show the beautiful face of the Commune 13 and support dozens of young people who continue to transform through tourism and art.