San Salvador is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Mainstream media, inside and outside of El Salvador focuses on the negative: "las maras", (very) high homicide rates, violence, death and more violence. However, nothing is said about how this stigma affects not only the country as a whole, but all of those who actually live in the violent communities within the country itself.
Violence is not the same everywhere. It is contextualized and therefore located in specific areas all across El Salvador in differing ways. Those territories, made monolithic, are labeled "comunidades marginales" (marginal communities or slums). To live in a community where violence is the order of the day is obviously difficult, but the difficulty is compounded when its people are discriminated against because of it.
"Only criminals live there"; "it's not safe to hire someone who comes from the slums"; "it's better to stay away from those areas" are but a few of the utterances that are behind a very big problem. It is almost impossible to think about eradicating violence if we are turning our backs on those places, and people, directly affected by it on a daily basis.
FORRANDO PAZ will make visible the faces of 130 young leaders and peacebuilders. They all live in communities that are considered to be amongst the most dangerous in El Salvador. Nevertheless, and against all odds, these youths are involved in activities that intend to transform their environments. Even if the conditions that create structural violence remain, all of them are working from the bottom up to enable social change.
With this project we want to encourage critical thinking about and deconstruct stigma by interrogating dominant definitions of leadership and making evident the inverse. What has emerged, then, is a reconsideration of what a leader is and what leadership looks like when it comes from “unimaginable” places.