Elcielo para todos, preparing peace from the kitchen

The armed conflict in Colombia left a wounded country. The same Colombian chef Juan Manuel Barrientos grew up in London because his family decided to escape the violence that threatened them, which came closer and closer. At the age of 16, Barrientos returned to Colombia and today, at 31, he runs, in parallel, his three Elcielo restaurants, a foundation that is certain that peace is built from trade, that wounds are closed by helping others.

The same year that the Colombian Government insisted for the eleventh time in establishing peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), Elcielo was founded for everyone. The project aims to train demobilised young people and soldiers wounded in combat, in the kitchen through courses where they learn basic techniques, as well as bakery, pastry and bar tending. There is no peace without reconciliation, and this qualification gives them a second chance to rejoin society. After passing the course, the young people have the opportunity to attend psychological therapy sessions where they work to overcome the past and the violence. Some of the participants will already have taken steps by leaving the guerrillas but the foundation understands that the problem is more complex.

This is where the initiative to include workshops for mothers and wives of imprisoned soldiers came, as well as indigenous people and farmers who have been displaced to the city due to the violence. Elcielo programme ends with internships in restaurants in Barrientos to offer work experience to all participants.