We Women Warriors (Tejiendo sabiduria)

| August 10, 2012

We Women Warriors (Tejiendo sabiduria) is an independent documentary about three women striving and surviving in Colombia the best way they know how. Amid a war between insurgents, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), and local armed forces, the three women highlighted in this documentary figure there must be a better way of life.

Doris Puchana is a young mother who governs a vulnerable Awá population that traditionally grows coca leaves. Flor Ilva Trochez is the first female Nasa governor of Jambaló, who leads a pacific movement to dismantle police barracks that endanger civilians by placing them in the line of fire. And Ludis Rodriguez is a spunky Kankuamo widow who is framed and captured on false charges of rebellion, while working as a cook for the police department.

Both Doris and Flor Ilva serve as elected councilwomen, and Ludis uses her innate skill to weave baskets, ponchos and bracelets to generate revenue—instead of relying on the local product, which is cocoa.

All three women are holding their communities down and all are working to bring a collective unity so they will be better able to lobby for human and civil rights in their distinctive local communities.

Colombia has 102 aboriginal groups, one-third of whom face extinction because of the internal conflict. The villagers move from one location to the next, searching for peace and safety.  The landscape is lush with mountains and in green trees. But into these mountains, you see soldiers setting off arsenal, not even caring what is on the other side. At one point, Doris, who is following in her mother’s footsteps as a leader, is responsible for 540 people who have left their homeland and have moved into a local school. As Doris is away at a press conference to speak with the United Nations, she sadly learns that five people under her care have been slaughtered by the soldiers. She emotionally appeals to the panel to do something about the circumstances, while sharing that her life has been threatened

It is so sad to see that the women in this documentary seem to be the only ones holding down the fort, so to speak, while the men are fighting each other, and bringing innocent locals into the line of fire. But they use their weaving as a symbol of solidarity that is needed for them all to survive. The documentary shows the strength of the women—who use nonviolent techniques to insure their communities’ survival—as well as their vulnerabilities. In one scene, Doris seems embarrassed—as any mother would—when her daughter is intent on jumping around on the furniture during the interview.

Finally, Puchana, Trochez and Rodriguez meet in Bogota at a conference and discover that although they are from different areas, they have a common goal—that of bringing peace and prosperity to their homelands; and it seems as if they have known one another already.

We Women Warriors shows the incivility of war against common everyday occurrences, such as women weaving baskets or ponchos for sell in a micro business or others tilling land to grow crops for all to eat. While it was sad to see that the women have to carry the ball, I enjoyed witnessing the respect that was shown the women by their community members. It was sad, however, to see Rodriguez taken away to prison. But when she was released after a year, she started a collective of women weavers, who are mostly widows, to help them become self-sufficient.

I believe the women had to take the lead, as the men were out working to provide for their families. The three women in the documentary, however, somehow set themselves apart as experts or educated women, upon whom the village could rely for direction.

We Women Warriors reveals human rights violations that are hard to get around. There are guns blazing everywhere you look, but the natives still work hard to drum up support for their cause; especially asking the United States to stop supporting the drug wars and providing arms.

We Women Warriors took five years to complete, and it offers stories of hope, unshakable courage and faith in the survival of indigenous culture. First-time filmmaker and journalist Nicole Karsin does a good job showcasing the three women’s struggles, which meshing them against the awful war-torn activities that are also going on.

It opens in New York on August 10 and in Los Angeles on August 24. For more information, visit www.wewomenwarriors.com

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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