Return to Happiness Project

My Life

I am Johemir and I was born in Monteria. I am now living in Apartado and I am sixteen years old. "When my father came home drunk, he would fight with my mother, and sometimes he would whip me. When I was nine years old he left us and we never saw him like we used to. A few years later he was murdered during a robbery. After my father was killed, we had absolutely no money. We had to start selling our household goods and furniture so we would have money to buy food. One day my mother told me that she was going to leave for a while, so that she could start new somewhere else. She wanted me to stay here in the house in Monteria. My mother promised to send me money and telephone every week, then she left. I was ten years old and for nearly and year I lived entirely alone." While she was gone I had to learn how to provide for myself. I taught myself how to cook and clean up things around the house. I thought if I kept the house clean and organized my mother would come back.

My Neighborhood

I grew up in a place called Apartado. This is a place where many people that were forced out of there homes went to, regardless of how many people were murdered here every single year. Apartado is 90 miles from Monteria. Apartado was very crowded because of all of the people that came here after getting forced out of there homes.

Reasons for Change

A big motivational situation for change was when Juanita, a seven year old girl in The Return to Happiness Program told Johemir what had happened. This Program was to help the kids who lost their families or homes to feel safe again, she told Johemir about how her father was mercilessly killed. ¨ The family was on a donkey cart: her father, her mother, Juanita, and her sister. A helicopter came and flew around them, making a loud whirring sound. When she flew the wooden helicopter, Juanita made the whirring sound through her teeth. Her whole face was screwed up in the effort. The family was frightened by the noise and the way the helicopter circled overhead. Her father stopped the cart and they all ran away to hide in the banana fields. She was with her mother and sister. Her father on the other side of the road. The helicopter landed some way off. The men came and one of them found her father. Juanita and her mother and sister stayed hidden but they saw everything. She saw them drag her father out of the field. She bent the tiny rag arms of the rag doll behind his head, just the way her father´s arms had been. The commander of the armed men came along and he pushed Juanita´s father onto the ground, face down. Then he took out a gun and shot him three times. Every time the rag mean went ¨pow!¨ with his gun, his whole body jumped with the force of his weapon. The rest of the family watched helplessly from their hiding places.¨ After Johemir heard about Juanita's story she wanted to have a march to happiness. In the picture below , this is what Johemir did, she marched on the road to try and get this movement to spread.