Out Of War


Maritza is a 17 year old girl who has been through too much in her life. Her story starts when she was 11 years old. She lives in Caicedo, Medellin in Colombia. Her neighborhood is a slum. It is overrun by gangs, therefore there are a lot of gang fights and massacres. There is also large illegal drug trade businesses, mostly selling cocaine and marijuana. The neighborhood is run down, filthy, and stricken by poverty. Her family never cared for her. Her mother and stepfather beat her when she does even the tiniest thing wrong. Later in her life, she joined a gang called “The Mexicans” and started doing drugs. She met a boy named Beto and he got her to join the Children’s Peace Movement. After an attempt to get “The Mexicans” and a rival gang to make peace failed, she got back into drugs. She still uses violence to solve some of her problems, but wants to create peaceful gangs without all of the violence. Maritza perfectly demonstrates that no matter how much you strive for peace, it is always easy to fall back into the dangerous pattern of drugs and violence.


Maritza lives in Caicedo, a small area in the city of Medellin, Colombia. Medellin is located in the bottom left corner of this Latin American country and is home to many poverty stricken citizens. It is an urban area. There are many, many houses fit into a area much too tiny for the amount of buildings. The set up of this town is exactly what would create gangs and cause violence. Below is a map showing the whereabouts of Caicedo and Medellin, so that you can see how small the town really was.
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Maritza does not live in a healthy environment. It is filthy and all the houses are very close together. This makes it easy for violence to take place and diseases to spread. The neighborhood is dilapidated and overrun by gangs. Fighting in the streets of Caicedo is very common, and Maritza was once shot in the leg during a fight between her gang and a rival gang. Her story didn't include any information about her schooling, so we assume she had little to no schooling at all. We imagine many kids not going to school because they can't afford it or they drop out because of drugs and violence. Maritza's environment played a huge role in who she is today, but it hasn't done her any good.

Events That Caused Her to Fight for Change

One event that caused Maritza to fight for change was when her parents abused her. They would whip her with electrical wires and slap her so hard her arm would feel like it was about to fall off. Maritza does not want any other child to have to face that pain. Then, when Maritza joined the gang, "The Mexicans", she was taught how to hold and fire a gun. The gang and their lifestyle persuaded Maritza to start doing drugs. These two lessons impacted her decision to fight for peace greatly. Maritza became so addicted to the drugs that she began taking them almost constantly just to get high and away from the life she was living. After she learned how to shoot, she began joining into every street fight. This habit ended up with her getting shot in the leg, an unfortunate accident that her mother did not care about. Although the shot didn't kill her, she wished that it had. Once when her mother was abusing her, Maritza ran into the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of bleach, and took a sip. Instantly, her whole face swelled up and her mother drove her to the hospital, leaving her there and refusing to help any more. Maritza was tortured with unbearable pain during her life, and by helping to fight for peace she hopes that she can prevent other kids from having to go through what she went through. She believes that world peace starts with peace at home.

What They are They Hoping for in the Future

Maritza is hoping that in the future there will be peaceful gangs, and they will have anti-violence activities like dance competitions instead of street massacres. She thinks that by eliminating drugs and guns there will be less injuries and kids will not have to go through the pain of trying to quit taking illegal drugs like pot and cocaine. Also Maritza hopes that the parents of the future will realize that a peaceful environment at home will help create world peace.
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What She Has Done to Promote Change

Maritza tried to ease the tension between her gang, "The Mexicans," and the other gang in her neighborhood by having a dance competition. The face off itself was a success, with the two groups laughing and having fun peacefully, but soon after the fun ended, the normal tension increased, snapping in a massacre that killed most of "The Mexicans" through gunfire. By this time, Maritza's friend Beto had convinced her into joining the Children's Movement for Peace, and Maritza began to feel like maybe there was hope for a better environment in Caicedo. She attended meetings, but soon became pessimistic, realizing how easy it was to fall back into a trigger-happy, drug-driven state of life. Right now, she is still in the Children's Peace Movement, but she has started doing drugs again and does not know if she can keep up her membership in this group.
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