Studies:Universidad de los Andes
I am passionate about
I feel passionate and committed in contributing to building peace in my country, especially because most Colombians have not lived a day without war, and I hope to put a grain of sand to be able to witness a new Colombia. There are not enough words to express my love for the land where I was born, even though it has been the setting of a bloody and prolonged armed conflict, which has resulted in more than 8,160,987 victims. It has been a conflict that does not discriminate; here, no one has been spared. In my case, I have been kidnapped twice between the ages of nine and eleven years old, and close to dying once. These were difficult moments that led me to re-evaluate my prejudices towards the different parties of the conflict. In the jungle, opposite worlds came face-to-face: mine, one full of opportunities, privileges and love, and theirs, marked by abandonment, poverty, abuse and lack of opportunity. Ironically, my captivity was not dissimilar to that of the guerrillas who were guarded me, and our common denominator was that there, far from civilization, we had been stripped of our self-determination. The only difference was that, in all likelihood, I would regain my freedom before they would. Amidst this ordeal, I decided to forgive my captors because I understood that they suffered more than I did. I understood that forgiving allows us to see others better, more transparently and to have the humility to give second chances to those who at some point took them away from us. That is why I promised myself that if I ever regained my freedom, I would work for those who put down their weapons to bet on and to accomplish a better future. There I wanted to be, and there I am. Together we are the vivid result of reconciliation and faith, together we are an example for the country. I have taken my story to many corners of the world to show that, although we have made war, today in Colombia we build peace.
I have helped to create a positive change through setting an example. I not only forgave my captors, but I have worked and currently work with them. Together, we are an example that forgiveness and reconciliation are possible. My experience was different from that of other victims because I did not hate my captors; on the contrary, I wanted to help them regain their freedom. While being kidnapped, I realized that many of the guerrillas there had joined trying to find opportunities, running away from poverty and abuse. Knowing their reality changed the image I had of many of them. That was the reason why on the day I was released I promised them I would help them regain their freedom, and since that day I have not stopped. I began studying political science to have a better understanding of the root causes of the conflict in Colombia so I could eventually find a good solution to ending it. Upon graduation, I interned at the United Nations Security Council in New York to broaden my knowledge about conflicts in other countries: why are some ongoing? And how have others ended? With better tools, I returned to Bogotá to work at the Colombian Agency for Reintegration. I was able to help guerrillas find a way out of the conflict and reincorporate into civilian life. However, even though this is their only way out, it is a difficult process, and for natural reasons society stigmatizes and rejects this population. The key was that there were fewer young people that believe joining an armed group would relieve them of their problems. At that point, I joined Fundación Corona as a Project Coordinator, convinced that education is the most powerful tool to keep young people away from crime and focused on their future. Recently, I created a social enterprise with some demobilized, and together we make jewels to demonstrate that forgiveness and reconciliation are possible. Throughout my story I want to show that war leaves us wounds only peace can heal.