Valeria heals her wounds

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In Colombia armed conflict affected more than two million children and youth between 1985 and 2021. Family’ member organisation Taller de Vida in Colombia works with these children, striving to keep them safe and to protecting their rights. One of these children is Valeria – this is her story. 

Valeria’s life has always been filled with uncertainty, hardship and danger. Her single mother was often forced to leave her child with relatives and neighbours while she worked. The young girl experienced sexual abuse and was beaten several times by her mother’s partner, before she ran away from home in a desperate search for community. At thirteen, she started living on the streets. But this simply swapped one terrible situation for another.

On the Colombian streets, Valeria was recruited into an armed guerilla group who were fighting the government from the jungle. She went willingly, believing that this group would look after her and give her a safe place to live.

A traumatic childhood

Valeria thought she had found a community, but she had never experienced real kindness or safety in her life. Her first boyfriend got shot and died in conflict, another close friend passed away from a tropical disease that the group didn’t have the resources to cure. All of this happened before she was 15 years old – still a child.

Making the escape

Eventually, Valeria managed to escape the group, and turned herself in to the Colombian military. This desperate search for safety led her to a government-appointed host family,  and eventually Valeria got connected with Family For Every Child’s member organisation Taller de Vida, and their ‘Proyecto Bambú’ reintegration programme.

How Taller De Vida help heal wounds

Taller De Vida‘s reintegration programme gave Valeria an opportunity to locate and reconnect with her family under supervision to ensure that the reintegration was safe and successful. Taller De Vida also worked with Valeria’s mother and other family members, providing psychosocial support. They helped both mother and daughter deal with their feelings, process trauma and worked to get the family ready for her return.

Taller de Vida’s programme made it possible for the family to reconnect. The mother’s ex-partner is no longer around, and Valeria feels part of a loving family for the first time in her life. 

“Things have changed. I contribute to the house and help out. Sometimes difficulties come up, but I will never go back to the streets or to an armed group. I’ll keep striving, at my family’s side, studying and learning for a career.”

– Valeria

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