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'Jorge Moves Beyond His Bad Memories'

Colombia has endured five decades of armed confrontation between the national army, guerrillas, paramilitary groups, drug mafias and other armed combatants. Many children and young people still experience the effects of violence and intimidation every day. Jorge is just one of those children. This is his story

Jorge feels that he is lucky to be alive following his recruitment into an armed group in Colombia when he was just thirteen. “If the group that I was with hadn’t held me back, I would probably have been killed,” he remembers.

“They killed my best friend in front of me. It is what has stayed with me the most from that time. And I’ll never be able to forget it.”

Jorge’s life in the armed group consisted of following orders and fighting in combat. “I fought in combat a lot,” he says. “The first time that I had to fight in combat, I cried. I still remember it very well; it was near Venezuela. I cried a lot that day. I couldn’t do it. I shot four times and nothing more. I came out of it traumatised. But later, it began to feel normal, like it was a normal part of your life. As if it was something you liked.”

Processing emotions

When Jorge finally left the armed group, he was aggressive and fought often. He joined a programme of War Child’s partner organisation Taller de Vida. There, Jorge learned to express and cope with his emotions and relate to others in a positive and constructive way. Along with other children with similar experiences, he played a role in a theatre performance they created about their own lives and experiences.

Jorge underwent many changes during his time in Taller de Vida’s programme. “I have personally made a lot of changes,” he says.

“One of them is that I have learned to live together with others, to be together without fighting. It is a big, very big opportunity that I have been given. I am very grateful and will continue to be for the rest of my life.”