By: Mary Colombie

Name: Maritza

Age: 11

From: Medellin


Maritza had a very rough family. She lived with her mother and her step father. She was often hungry because her parents drank most of their money away. She never knew her real father; he moved out right when she was born. She grew up her whole life calling her step father her dad when one day he yelled at her, "and anyway, I'm not your real father!" Her relationship with her mother was much worst. When ever she did something wrong, her mother woud grab the electrical wire from their boom box and shock her. Often though, she would beat her. She beat her so hard one time that she almost broke her arm!


Maritza said that her home town was almost like a battle field. Everyone in her home town screamed, cursed, and whippings came for any reason. She also said that the houses were packed close together, there were very narrow roads, and lots of people living there, all trying to escape violence in other parts of the counry but seem to have brought the violence with them. Also, her home town has the highest murder rates than any other city in thw world. There were many assassins, drug dealers, urban miliias, and gangs living near her.


One event that had influenced Maritza was when she went out with her friend Fabio to the territory of La Libertad, a gang that was once warred against The Mexican's gang. They were planning to just go to a party, but they got much more than that. They got there and while her friend was in the bathroom, a man came up to her and said, "I'm going to kill you because your going to a party with a police officer." This man was stoned. She tried to explain to him that he's not a cop, but he then said, "I want you to kill me so you know how it feels to kill." Martiza and Fabio were then kicked out of the party by the stoned man and his gang, saying that they were going to take them to separate locations and kill them. (They were saved though.)

Another event that had influenced Maritza was when she was first introduced to drugs at age of 11, when she ran away from her home and was planning to live on the streets. At first, she didn't do a lot of drugs, but at the age of 12, she was nearly high all the time. But one time, when she was high she heard a gun battle break out. She grabbed a gun and ran out to the street. She was trying to shoot, but then she realized she didn't have any bullets. Then, she felt a sharp pain in her leg. When she later came home to tell her mother she was shot, her mother refused to take her to the hospital and told her to go fix her leg herself.

Has she been threatened?

Well, when Maritza got back from the hospital after getting beaten by her mother the second time, she didn't want to go to school anymore because kids were threatening to attack her. She was 17 years old and was in 8th grade. She couldn't get a job because she was under the age of 18. Unemployment was very high. She didn't know what to do.

Fighting for Peace

Maritza fought for peace because her old friend Beto, who she used to altar serve with in church, told her she was throwing her life away to drugs and violence. She then joined a group with him called The Peace Movement and helped the kids in the organization to dance. She choreographed a routine showing two gangs who become friends through the dance. The song they danced to was "Bad" by Micheal Jackson.

When I was impressed

The thing that impressed me most about Maritza even though she was beaten by her mother and step father, was doing drugs, was shot, in a gang, and was living near all these criminals and in such a bad area, she still found her way through all the trouble and tried to find peace in her city.


If I had to ask Maritza a question, it would be, "Were you scared living in such a terrible area and were fighting against people that could kill you at any time?"