I am passionate aboutI 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.
ActionsI 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.