Tatiana Montaña

This description of Tatiana Montaña's work was prepared when Tatiana Montaña was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2016.


Tatiana transforms the mindset of children and young people by empowering them as changemaker and makes them an active part in reconciling and rebuilding the social fabric in a country beset by violence, guerrilla and Colombian paramilitarist, through this methodology she builds citizenship and participation with equitable relationships; this is achieved through its Foundation Fuentes de Paz, is developing an intergenerational methodology that parts from reality, where children and young discover their own ideas of solutions and they develop it in the community.

The New Idea

Tatiana turns children and youth since action into real changemakers to practice their projects. She is changing the dialogue among kids and adults creating new intergenerational relations clearing the way by also working with the adults on how they can actually listen to the young people with new practices to the common benefit order and the social fabric construction to peace where children and adolescents are one more actor of change and transformation.Tatiana replicates through its methodology that parts from the child and it breaks with the traditional adult-centrists’ methods.

Tatiana develops a methodology which operates when she is creating a change starting in the community and its spaces. This way, children with changes in their behavior patterns, affect their school, home and community. Tatiana affects in a culture of active citizenship participation in a broad way, where everyone is involved. Tatiana not only influences in public spaces, she is also influences in the center of the communities, as well she a strong network of local allies, leaders and organizations and actor from the public sector.

Children and adolescents intervene in their communities, beyond the consultative participation; is to say, the meta-participation, a level in which children and adolescents act collectively and by self-motivation, for the benefit of the community. Tatiana is working with UNDP and Government rebuilding communities and human right through public policies for peace.

The Problem

Colombia is immersed in a internal violent struggle,territories as Buenaventura (in the Pacific) and Mocoa in Putumayo, are the most violent territories, as a result of the armed conflict, where bags with body parts of people, who are dismembered alive and try to vanish, appear. Related with young in 2013, 21,373 boys and girls had to leave their homes due to violence, said Pandi Agency, Allied Journalism for Children, Social Development and Research. This independent Colombian news agency notes that "in the last 28 years, 38% of the victims of armed conflict have been children." In addition, it noted that according to the newspaper ‘El Espectador’, between 1985 and 2014, 7,722 children and adolescents have been recruited by all war actors and according to newspaper ‘El Tiempo’ every month 10 children are recruited by armed groups outside the law. In regards toschoolviolence, a study conducted in 2013 by the University of Health Sciences Foundation noted that 1 in 5 children in Colombia are victims of bullying. And regarding Domestic Violence, every 9 hours a child is murdered in Colombia, according to a research conducted by the newspaper‘ElTiempo’ in 2015. According to the numbers from the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) from 2013 to 2015 3,266 children have been abused in Bogota, 1,224 in Cundinamarca and 20,526 nationwide.

This fight has broken the bonds of closeness and trust and has destroyed the social structure. The situation of violence in Colombia hurts mainly children, who are treated as "minors", as objects and not subjects with rights, without voice or any chance to be heard or taken into account in each of the situations they must live. Besides being a vulnerable population, violence weakens them more and moresince it is a dynamic naturalized by the citizens. The more than 60 years of armed conflict have developed in the population uses and violent habits in their daily life. Subjecting children and exposing them to violence results in human beings growing with impotence and the inability to change their reality; they naturalize violence in their everyday life, are insecure, have low self-esteem, blocked creativity and reproduce violent models.

The education system, in most cases in Colombia, maintains the adult-centrist and violent model. The relations of authoritarian power make children that give their opinion or rebel to these excesses of power to be rejected and considered as negative leaders. Instead of building with the children, they seek submission, which only perpetuates the pattern of violence. The school instead of being a protection space, is a space of struggle. And thus,children grow multiplying the violent model from their homes, school,which is a reflection of a violent society. In most cases, children do not have other spaces where they can learn to exercise their right to participate peacefully, in which collaborative relationships and not competitive develop.

The Strategy

Tatiana formally began her activities in the Drop by Drop Foundation, and then in 2007 created her Peace Fountain Association, http://www.somosfuentedepaz.org/, which today has a staff of 1 General Director, 2 Coordinators (Communications and Project) and 5 volunteers.
Children and communities that benefit from Tatiana’s are displaced or live in neighborhoods with high levels of violence due to drug trafficking, guerrillas as well as domestic violence, behaviors they repeat in schools.

The methodology of the organization develops through three programs: 1) CIVITAS: making children and adolescents aware about their role in building of healthy relationships for coexistence. 2) SIMUL: strengthening children, young and adolescents’skillsto develop projects that contribute to building peace in Colombia and any subject involving citizen participation of children and youth. 3) AGENTIA: Forming community leaders, youth, teachers, social professionals to multiply the methodology Fountain of Peace and thus have a greater impact of this tool for building peace.

The Methodology Fountains of Peace for Children and Adolescents (between 5-14 years) develops with 3 circles of experience:i) Existential circle, participants, through playful and experiential activities, they live the 5 basic principles to havepeace territories(Empathy, Respect, Solidarity, Dialogue and Reconciliation). Within this circle they are become conscious and begin to develop or strengthen trust, empathy, emotional resolution ability and solidarity. ii) Joint solution circle, participants through artistic techniques and innovative methodologies for project development, make a diagnosis of their community related to the basic principles for peace and thoughts on the previous circle. Finally, they let their solution embodied in a collective work/project, which is socialized with the community. Within this circle they become conscious and develop or strengthen critical and creativethinking. iii) Circle of collective action, children and adolescents’ participants socialize their projects with adults from the community, so that adults first know and interact with the proposed solutions. Within this circle they become conscious and develop or strengthen the ability of co-creation, active citizen participation (meta-participation), and construction of social structure. Through the socialization of projects in the community, they seek for support to implement their projects and then it’s realized with the support of the community.

Tatiana achieves that children and adolescents (between 5-14 years) identify a problem, design a solution and intervene in their communities, where children goes beyond consultative participation, specifically in the third circle: Circle of collective action where children and teenagers shared their projects with adults from the community, that way, they first known the project and interact with solutions proposals. In this circle they made conscious and develop or strengthen co-creation ability, active citizenship (meta-participation) and build the social fabric. Through the socialization of projects in the community, they seek for support to implement their projects and then it’s realized with help from the community.
As part of the Response Strategy, Tatiana has developed the Training methodology for community leaders and teachers through 3 experiential circles. i) Experience Circle in the Fountain of Peace methodology:theylive a taste of the experience children and adolescents will have when they participate in processes that are generated with the methodology. In this circle they develop or reinforce skills such as Empathy, Trust, Affection and Solidarity ii) Comparative Theory; use of theoretical concepts: Constructivism, Meaningful Learning, Play, Experiential Education, Child Citizen Participation, Art as a process of realization of learning with what leaders have lived in the first circle of experience. In this circle they develop or reinforce skills such as Assertive Communication and Conflict Resolution iii) Project Development, leaders and teachers develop a project. Likewise,thetoolbox for project development is createdjointly. In this circle they develop or reinforce skills like Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking and Co-creation. After, each of the leaders practice with 10 children and adolescents, they apply the created project and Fountain of Peace acts as advisor and follows up on the projects, so that they can improve their learning.

In all the projects a follow up on indicators achieved byleaders and teachers is carried out. The methodology has a measurement system with 3 levels: i) Compliance of the process in workshops, developed works of art, playful and experiential activities carried out by assistants. ii) Achievements in number of children and adolescents that generate actions to build a peaceful community; number of people who join the projects proposed by children and adolescents and number of alliancesachieved for the development of the proposed projects. iii) Transformations. They focus on the subsequent actions to the project, following up on the life stories that has positively impacted the methodology.

As another of Tatiana’s accomplishment, highlights her battery of games and special mention is the creationof her board game "Building Peace", which has been played by both, children, parents as well as leaders of the peace process. There is no difference in the approach to children and teenagers in Peace Fountain methodology, Tatiana only adapt games and activities but the purpose it’s the same, achieve direct participation with decision makers of the community to put in practice their solutions.

Tatiana spent 2 years developing her methodology and 6 proving and creating confidence with the communities, in the first place she did it alone and impacted through 30 projects carried forward from 2007 to 2015, the methodology has benefited more than 3,000 children and adolescents in 19 municipalities of Colombia and 40 community leaders in Buenaventura.

As examples it’s Rafael Rivera with his group, they decided to intervene a park in very bad conditions. In 3 weeks daily sessions they study the needs of the park through perceptions of children of 11, 12 and 13 years. In one day of interventions which neighbors, children, youth and adults participate and Rafael said that the park still in very good conditions. Then, the same group of children lead by Rafael and with Peace Fountain accompaniment, did some radio shows when they interview people as the Mayor of Bogotá. Those actions give this group of young more spaces of political and citizenship to children when they have the opportunity to expose their ideas the community and the city. Rafael today it’s candidate to be student leader and he is very grateful with Peace Fountain.

Tatiana has permeated nationwide and children proposals have been received by the authorities. She is recognizes by his active role in the peace in Colombia. In December 2015, Tatiana gathers the experience of having workedwith her methodology and having fostered 200 peace proposals created by the children in the book titled "I want peace, reconciliation and a country full of love", which includes the systematization of children’s proposals that were made in partnership with the High Commissioner for Peace, the OIM and the International Cooperation Agency (USAID).As another Tatiana’s accomplishment, the High Commissioner for Peace contact her through one of her biggest ally, Milena Peralta, consultant to the Commissioner, to have children participation. Some significant proposals (200) were read at the Colombian peace negotiation table in Havana.

Tatiana it’s currently in the tipping point, she already created confidence with the violent communities she started in 2015 the Mobile Center strategy to spread her methodology. The Mobile Centerconsists in training program for facilitators in the methodology for community leaders and teachers. The impact of Tatiana it’s increasing fastest her impact; through trainers she is replicating Fountain of Peace methodology into the communities, accompany facilitators, trainers and communities, the development of projects and following directly from communities andguarantying the successful of projects.It starts in Buenaventura and it would be made by a person part of the Fountain of Peace staff, with a minimum group of 10 Facilitators’ Trainers already trained, and who would move to strengthen communities. The objectives of this Mobile Center would be: i) support citizens so they recognize their participation dynamics ii) accompany the discovery process of key elements for transformation, of basic principles for transformation, of generating agreements for transformation. iii) Support the development of actions that turn agreements into reality and turn the habits, and iv) support the multiplication within communities.

The dynamics of formation and answer is achieved as follows: i) The Fountain of Peace team will train for 5 weeks Facilitators’ Trainers in the methodology of Fountain of Peace. ii) Then, each Facilitator must train during 5 weeks10 facilitators per year. iii) After the training, each Facilitator must, for 5 weeks,conductapublic participation process with 10 children per year. iv) Each group of 5 children, involved in the processes of citizen participation for peace, conducted by facilitators, should undertake a project to intervene the community to change the violent dynamics into peaceful.

From this dynamic short and long term goals expected to be achievedby 2016 are to benefit 801 Facilitators’ Trainers, 4,540 trained Facilitators and 25,700 children and adolescents benefit from citizen participation processes.For 2020, it is expected to benefit 6,141 Facilitators’ Trainers, 186,040 capacitated Facilitators and 1,620,300 children and adolescents benefit from citizen participation processes. It is expected to impact 13 Colombian territories: Buenaventura, Mocoa, Tumaco, Neiva, Montes de Maria, Quibdo, Socorro, Riohacha, Mitu, Villavicencio, Tunja and Ibague. Including work done in the ACR with reintegrators of the institution and reach 6 international territories: Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Guatemala, Salvador and Nicaragua.

The Mobile Center it’s articulated with local and regional Organizations present.Among its current allies is the CarvajalFoundationpresent in Buenaventura, Cali and Popayan; in Mocoait works directly with the Association of women leaders Inga-Camtsa, to have a minimum of installed capacity that would allow the multiplication in the territory by these leaders and that, after their training, new projects would be recommendedwith the methodology. Conversationsare being held with the Roof Foundation to reach Antioquia. It has partnerships with private and state companies such as Faber Castell, St. Thomas University, Culture Secretariat, Ministry of Culture, Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, and international cooperation agencies, such as,theUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID) the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Institute of Peace in Canada. It has established knowledge exchange partnerships and co-creation with Red depaz,the Workshop School of Bogota and BuenaventuraFoundation, the Corporation ‘SomosMás’, JuntadeAcciónComunal North Sauces, JAL Usaquén, the Police, IDRD and the Social Integration Secretariat.It has alliances with Ashoka Fellow LeonelNarváez, and is advancing on joint peace programs.

Tatiana it’s influencing public policies through the empowerment of local actors, generating new kinds of intergenerational dialogue and actions for peace. For Tatiana, the first right its participation and through this point she seeks to influence other rights to children and youth.

Currently (2017) Tatiana workedwith the UNDP and the High Commissioner for Peace in the workshop “This is your challenge (Este estureto)” addressed to 250 young (14-28 years) participants had the opportunity to share experiences and create together projects to build peace in their territories, young community leaders were also summoned to do pedagogy of peace agreements, with the basic principles of “Fuentes de Paz”: empathy, solidarity, reconciliation, dialogue, they did so in 5 cities: Ibague, Villavicencio, Valle del Dupar, Cúcuta and Medellín.

The Person

Tatiana was born in Bogotá. Her mother is a Brazilian entrepreneur who manages today a family-owned real estate company and her dad is an engineer who dedicated his life to teaching and to sewage treatment plants design as a public servant. Her family background was always very conscious of the Colombian reality, because her paternal grandparents were displaced by violence generating a dynamic of concern toward social issues; they exchanged views on what was happening in the country, including her with only 6 years of age. This experience sows deep within her the germ of social sensibility, in a country afflicted by violence.

At the age of 9Tatiana represented her school atthechildren’s Mini-Congress on the progress of the Convention for Children's Rights. This hit her because she realized that, as a child,she could claim her right to participation. Between 12 and 18 she lived the time where, at least once a week, bombs exploded in the capital, as a result of drug trafficking. This fact struck in her the urgency of her search for peace. She was the victim of a prompt threat on the street, by a bodyguard, who threatened her with his rifle, because by accident, while riding her car she got trapped in the middle of a chase. This situation paralyzed her for several days.

At 22 she graduated as a journalist; at 26 she becomes a specialist in Negotiation and then at 28 she gets her Master’s Degree in Cultural Management. From 2004 to 2011 she worked as a journalist at Hewlett Packard, at the generation of sustainable social projects. In 2012 she earned a Certificate on "International Education for Peace" from the UNESCO - Canada, along with other studies that provided her with solid knowledge for the development ofher own methodologies. In 2007 she creates herFountain of Peace Association and begins her work as an academic communication professor, crisis and mediation from the Javeriana University. By 2015 she used her knowledge and experience as a professor, and developed the Pedagogical Methodologiesmodulefor Peace in the Urabá Antioqueño - Necoclí, with rural teachers, who developed an application project in her classroom, with the Fuente de Paz methodology, demonstrating, this way, the possibility of replicating it in formal environments. Tatiana’s dream is that the children's ideas be incorporated as part of the final peace agreement in Colombia, within the context of a vision of mental and cultural change for a peaceful solution, in search of solidarity, empathy and acceptance of the differences.