They Left Their Childhood in the Guerrillas; Now They Just Want to Move Forward With Their Lives (S)
Combat can leave side effects that will take years to overcome. Children and youth who were militants in illegal groups in Colombia can now think about the future, thanks to reintegration programs such as that of Don Bosco.
He is 19; she is 16 years old. When they fought in the guerrilla they were just children. This February 17, at the headquarters of the humanitarian NGO Don Bosco in Bonn, Catalina and Manuel sought to explain to German journalists that what’s most important for them is the future. But here two worlds collide: the media seems to be more interested in their past.
“Children and adolescents who were mistreated by their families become an easy prey for recruitment by guerrillas and paramilitaries,” said Father Rafael Bejarano, director of Don Bosco in Medellín. Don Bosco, a humanitarian organization of the Salesians, has had a presence in Colombia for 65 years and 15 years ago launcehd a great program of protection for child soldiers, more precisely, for ex-militants of armed groups who want to reintegrate into society. “We are children and young people who only want to educate ourselves, listen to music or go out in peace, like any other person, “says Manuel.
[These] children will now have a future. Today, numerous former members of FARC and other armed organizations are, thanks to Don Bosco, “not only assistants in a company but they are production leaders.” Catherine, after a long process, reconciled with her mother, without forgetting her scars and is now working with two of her brothers. She, like many children who’ve come out of the tragic madness of the Colombian conflict, lives by a motto that inspires confidence in them and in a society which they no longer see as an enemy: “Only you can do it, but you can not do it alone”. Actualidad DW