Saved from Drowning
An Introduction to Wilfrido
Wilfrido says that he was saved from drowning like the serious side of David (see How Wilfrido Fought for Peace) when he joined Return to Happiness. Millions of people who haven't joined are drowning right now.
"I used to think that in order to survive, you had to have a weapon in your hand. Now I know that what we really need are positive ideas."
Where in Colombia was this?
Apartado is Wilfrido's home town.
This is where Wilfrido volunteered after the earthquake.
This is where Wilfrido was displaced to, and where his sister lives.
Life for Wilfrido Before Return to Happiness
At age 7, he sold barrio (deep fried snacks) door to door, from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. He was lucky if he made 50 cents day. That same year, he stowed away on a construction worker's truck. The boss, Edwin, couldn't bring him back, so he let Wilfrido stay, doing small jobs. Wilfrido kept coming back, and did harder and harder jobs. Eventually, he injured his back permanently. That meant the government military couldn't hire him, but the other groups could, and it would be even harder.
At that time, he went to school to play and fight. Edwin, who was like the father Wilfrido never had, didn't like that, and taught him responsibility so well that even the teachers trusted him.
But school, family hardships, poverty, and a job weren't all of Wilfrido's problems. He had to try to avoid the paramilitaries, too. At that time, war was considered a job option, but Edwin advised him not to join, since there was such a high risk, and they didn't actually give money. Wilfrido went home early every day to avoid being taken and forced to join, or being killed by the sicarios, or assassins, who rode around town randomly shooting.
Why Wilfrido fought for peace
One day, a truck pulled up next to him and a man with gun turned to him. Then another said, “No, not him, he isn't the one...” then they drove away. He had almost died of a mistake.
Eight of Wilfrido's friends joined paramilitaries for money, and six are now dead. Later on, another two of his friends, both innocent, died when they were caught in the crossfire.
Wilfrido liked one of the girls at his school, but she didn't like him because he was black. This annoyed him, so he frequently pulled he hair. One day she grabbed his hand and bit him, and hepunched her face on instinct. Her face was in bad condition, and when he saw her with her parents glaring at him a week later, he apologized. They didn't seem to care, but he felt better anyway.
Nidya Quiroz, an Ecuadorean member of UNICEF, cam to Wilfrido's school to talk about therapy by entertainment, which interested him because he knew he was funny. Graca Machel had visited a year previous, when he was 13, but it didn't interest him then. Now hundreds of displaced people had entered Apartado, and Wilfrio wanted to help.
How Wilfrido fought for peace
Wilfrido was one of thirty volunteers in Pereira, and he stayed for three weeks. While he was there, he met 11 year old David, who was living with his mother, two brothers, and his sister in a shelter. His father was murdered in front of the family, and David wanted to kill for revenge. It was as if he was drowning when he thought of his father. Wilfrido visited David during almost all of his free time, and when he left, David sent him a letter saying he knew it would be wrong to kill, since he would be no better than his father's killer.
In Rio Grande, he met Jacinta, a girl abandoned by her parents because she had especially dark skin. She lives with her grandparents, and was sad when she saw other children's parents bringing them to school. Wilfrido felt sorry that such a small child had to endure poverty, abandonment, racism, and violence.
The Drawbacks of Helping
The volunteers also had workshops, but they were nothing like those for the children. At the workshops, they often cried and despaired about all of the hurt children. Some blamed God, but Wilfrido knows that is not true. He says, "But it isn't God who is hurting these children. Other people are doing it. Sometimes their own parents are doing it.
What the future holds
Wilfrido seems hopeful for the future. He knows that a big part of ending the Colombian war is educating people on what is happening, since many of the rich don't even realize how huge the war is. He also understands that the more people who join organizations like UNICEF, or are visited by organizations like Return to Happiness, the more people and communities are healing. Both education and organizations are getting bigger, so more and more people are trading war for peace.