Out of War


Maritza is 17 years old. She is from Caicedo, which is a community in Medellin, Colombia. In Medellin, there is assassins, drug dealers, urban militias and gangs. In Medellin, there are also slums. She has a friend named Fabio and one night when they were walking through Caicedo, he gave her a rose. They both agreed that if one of them were to die, the other would put the rose on the other person's dead body. Her mom and dad both drank and her house was full of fighting. When she was 11, she couldn't take it anymore and ran away from home. “It sounds pathetic to say ‘My mother doesn't love me’ but I think it’s the truth" says Maritza. She realized that being away from home was harder than being home. “In the communas (communities) there is no escape”. There was even less food and no shelter. She joined a gang and they taught her how to shoot. One of the girls in that gang told Maritza that it was cool to have a gun. She had done drugs, been shot and shot a person all before the age of 11. She also got high on a regular basis.

Home Life

Maritza's family didn't love her. She was the surprise child her parents never wanted.

One day she got high and heard a gunshot from outside. She ran outside to join the fight and ended up getting shot. Her mother wouldn't bring her to the hospital, she told Maritza that getting shot would teach her a lesson. The fighting got so bad at home that she had to leave. When she came back, her mother hit her so hard that Maritza's face swelled up. Maritza was stronger and braver than before and when her parents would yell at her or hurt her, she would just hit them back. When when Maritza and her step dad were fighting he said “And anyway i’m not your real father” when she thought he was. The fighting got so bad that she ran to the kitchen and drank some kind of acid or bleach. Her mother finally brought her to the hospital and never visited her. The only person that went to visit her in the hospital was her friend Beto.

Fight for Change

“I walk two paths at the same time and still wish I could walk in the peace path all the time. I think that my struggle to make pace and the way I have survived should be worth something.” -Maritza. When Maritza was out dancing with Fabio, a big man went over to her and wanted to kill her, then she changed his mind and wanted her to shoot him. This was because the man thought Fabio was a police officer. The La Libertad gang was going to take Maritza and Fabio somewhere else to kill them but Maritza found friends and they explained that Fabio wasn’t a cop. Maritza and Fabio were released and walked home but a member of the gang followed them so it wasn’t safe, He could have jumped them at anytime. Maritza's mom would whip her with an electrical wire whenever she dropped something like a glass or plate. Her mother thought that the things she broke were more important than she was. “If we had peace at home, that would be a great beginning.” -Maritza


Maritza was a good dancer. She entered a dance competition and won. The song she did was "Bad" by Micheal Jackson.

Maritza got "The Mexicans" and "La Liberdad" to do a dance off. The dance off went well and both gangs got along. That's when Maritza joined the peace movement. Once she started going to the meetings she got bored and started "shooting" people with her hands that were in the shape of a gun. Beto told her that if she was going to do that, than she couldn't be in the Peace Movement. Maritza then left the movement and went back to getting high every day and fighting with her family. A few weeks later she joined the group again and went to Holland with Juan Elias. Beto thought Maritza was stuck up when she came back from Holland. He told her that he went on trips with the movement too so she shouldn't act like that. Maritza believes that peace would be easier to accomplish if adults were more cooperate.