Removing Barriers in Bogotá, Colombia

Matt Crowe is a 2023 Impact Scholarship recipient and IIRP Graduate School student. He is the founder and director of i58 Movement in Bogotá, Colombia, an educational program that provides essential resources and opportunities to children and families displaced by internal conflict who suffer from extreme poverty and injustice.

Q: What brought you to the IIRP?

A: While working for Youth Off The Streets in Australia in 2015, I completed a two-day professional development conference focusing on restorative practices. For me, this was revolutionary. Not only did we explore strategies for resolving conflict, but how to create environments for building healthy relationships and community. By 2023, I had already worked in Colombia for six years at i58 Movement, an educational program I founded for children and families displaced by conflict. That was when I received an Impact Scholarship from the IIRP. I was exploring further education; however, I wanted to develop practical skills alongside theoretical knowledge. Most university courses did not offer this combination. The IIRP offered me a balance of theory and practice through topics and themes that were relevant to the community I am journeying alongside.

Q: What does your professional work entail, and what makes you passionate about it?

A: In 2017, I left my position as a director of alternative education in Sydney, Australia, and came to Colombia to build peace where it was broken. I was able to gain entry to a closed community suffering from extreme poverty and injustice. Together, my wife and I developed a program for young people and families displaced by Colombia’s internal conflict. Through this program, we provide services and activities centered around peace, justice, and healthy relationships. I am passionate about seeing each life with which we connect receive the opportunity to flourish and about removing any obstacles preventing that from happening. I believe the world needs the gifts, talents, and beauty of these individuals and without these being shared, we all miss out.

Q: What would you like to see in your professional work in the future?

A: I want to see lives that are empowered and flourishing. I want to see peace come to our community in ways that are sustainable because the peace processes and community building will be driven by equipped and experienced local leaders. I want to see young people empowered to lead and break the cycles of poverty and injustice that burden their lives and their families.

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