COVERED from head to toe in a protective suit, Yina Oritz peers through a veil to check in on her beehive.

It is one of hundreds that form a lifeline for her remote village, helping to heal the wounds of one of the Colombian conflict's most brutal atrocities.

Rightwing paramilitaries stormed the village in the dead of the night and used machetes to hack 27 people to death, accusing them of collaborating with leftist guerrillas .

The attack 18 years ago was one of the conflict's worse atrocities.

Ortiz, a young girl then, survived the attack on her village of Chengue in the northern Montes de Maria region. But she lost several members of her family as well as close friends.

Now 33, her memories are still clear, particularly of ''the dead lying in the streets the next day.''

''It wasn't just the streams of blood, it was awful to see so many dead bodies, one of top of the other, there on the ground, and their loved ones picking them up,'' Oritz told AFP.

More than a hundred families fled in the wake of the atrocity, leaving behind a ghost village.

BUT nearly two decades later, life has slowly returned to the dusty village, in part because of the lure of bees.

A program initiated by by Ortiz and a group of industries local women helped bring apiculture to Chenghue and it hasn't looked back.

''Thanks to beekeeping people have united, returned, they enjoy taking care of the bee,'' she said, working the handle on a device called a bee smoker to fumigate and calm the swarming bees.

For the past year, the 159 families of Chengue alternate between agricultural work and caring for the 500 hives donated by the government and the United Nations, as part of a collective program for survivors of armed conflicts.

''We used to be all over the place, some people were in Ovejas, others in Sincelejo, but we need to heal woulds and now, thanks to the beekeeping, people have come back, they like to be with the bees, to study the life of bees.'' [Agencies]


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!