Out of War


Johemir is 16 years old. He grew up in Monteria, a very poor neighborhood in northwest Colombia. At a young age, his father left him and his mother and was murdered shortly afterward. At ten, his mother left him to earn money for the family. Almost one year later she came back with news; they were moving to a banana plantation in La Chinta with his new stepfather. All little Johemir could think about though, was that his mother was home and she was with him. Poor Johemir had to cook for himself and keep their small house clean. No one ever knew that he was alone because Johemir was afraid someone would try to rob the house or even hurt him. As he grew older, he started to work with children affected by the war, which led him to the Children’s Peace Movement.


Johemir lives in a section of Colombia called Antioquia. Antioquia is a tightly packed place full of cities crammed between mountainous regions. The climate is very warm and humid. There are many banana plantations on the outskirts of the cities and many people are employed through these farms. If it weren't for all of the tight conditions, tropical life would be plentiful. Unfortunately, there is barely any greenery in cities like these.


Johemir lives on a banana plantation in a small wooden house he and his family built themselves. His mother sells meals to the workers and his stepfather, who he is not very close to, works in the plantations. Johemir goes to the local school and is continuing his studies. Because he lives on the banana plantation, Johemir doesn't really have a neighborhood. When he does go into town, though, there are many dangers to watch out for such as robbers and military groups. His hometown is known as a very dangerous place where many kidnappings and murders take place. As for living conditions, they are not wonderful, but at least they have a stationary house. Even though Johemir is poor, he doesn't live in the slums. He is in the middle of poor; his family can’t afford food all of the time, but he doesn't have a house made out of scrap material.

Why Fight for Change?

No one person can just wake up an decide to make the world a better place on their own, someone or something usually influences it. For Johemir, I think a few main things changed his outlook on life. The first thing was his mother going away for a year, leaving Johemir to fend for himself. He realized that he grew up quick in those conditions and doesn't want anyone to lose their innocence and childhood to an ongoing war. The second thing that influenced him was meeting Juanita. While Johemir was working for a program that helped children affected by the war, he met a little girl named Juanita. She was so shy and afraid, it took weeks to figure out that a cruel guerrilla group had killed her father. Meeting Juanita helped Johemir realize that the ones most affected by the war are Colombia's children and that something needs to be done to help the next generation who will be running the country. One time, Johemir was invited to New York as a part of the Children's Peace Movement. He saw the beautiful city and realized that not a;; of the world is torn by war and Colombia has a chance to eventually look and be as happy as New York one day.

What Has He Done?

Johemir has done many things to fight for change. His most effective duty is simply being there for children in need. Thousands are psychologically wounded and many of those wounds will never heal. This has happened with innocent children who had their family and friends murdered or kidnapped in the war for power. These broken children need someone to play with them and be a comfort that promises safety. While working with the children affected, Johemir has received many threats from military groups, but never has gone along with them or done what he was asked. He admits that he was scared and believes he was constantly followed during a short period, but the children were more important at that time.

What Is He Hoping For?

Like almost all of Colombia's citizens, Johemir and his mother are hoping for the war to finally end and someone to rise to power. I don't think it really matters who, but someone who will help rebuild Colombia and its people. Johemir also wishes to keep trying to support those who need it such as little Juanita and others who have been assigned to him as a play-buddy and are looking for comfort or support.