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No child should be at war - Spring 2021

Childhood brings to mind specific experiences: your first day at school, birthday parties, playing outdoors with friends. It is hard to imagine a childhood without these simple moments, a childhood where daily life is shaped by war, and where violence is the norm.

Since the beginning of the internal conflict in Colombia, thousands of children have been recruited into illegal armed groups, in effect having their childhood stolen from them. Carlos is one of these children for whom the right to a safe and happy childhood was taken away. He now attends our project with CRAN:

“My name is Carlos*, I am eighteen years old and I started attending this programme in March last year. My life before the programme was horrible, I had no idea who I was or what I was going to do with my life, I didn’t know the city or what education was, I experienced a lot of fear and pain.

I am now doing much better, living with ‘auntie’, she helps me with everything that I need, I have learned from her, we cook together and look out for each other; these are good times. But what worries me is when I leave this place, because I don’t yet know where to go or what to do.

I’ve been through a lot, but I try to focus on the positives. I am stronger and more resilient facing the things that have happened to me and that still happen in my life. I feel that I need to fight for what I want, considering everything that I’m capable of doing and putting into practice what I have been taught during this time.

The programme has had a big impact on me, I think differently compared to when I arrived, I’m more social, more empathetic and I have better self-awareness and self-esteem. I like to study and want to graduate from high school, go to university and study psychology so I can help the people in my community, and have a home of my own." 

*Carlos' name has been changed for safeguarding purposes

Minors have been recruited into armed groups in Colombia since the beginning of the conflict, but developments in the security situation over the past year have created an ever more complex threat facing at-risk children. Covid-19 has made it even more difficult for agencies to monitor and react to threats against children’s safety, and in 2020 alone, at least 222 minors were recruited. Agencies are facing greater difficulty in responding to protection, reaction and monitoring due to the emergency generated by Covid-19. In 2020 alone, at least 222 minors were recruited (Coalico). 

To find out what we are doing to help children like Carlos, download the full newsletter here