The Lone Peacemaker
Johemir is a sixteen year old girl, and was born in the town of Monteria, Colombia. She was born into a very poor family. She felt alone through most of her childhood. This is because, her father whipped and abused her as a young child. But this all escalated over the years...
Life at Home
Johemir´s life in Monteria wasn´t pleasant for her. Her mother had a rough time managing the family alone, and began to sell household items and clothes to buy food. When Johemir was ten years old, her mother abandoned her. She missed her mother everyday and cried many times. Now she was living in Monteria alone and doing all thee housework by herself like cleaning, washing clothes, and cooking. Even though she missed her parents, she had become used to living by herself. But, then one day, it all changed......
Colombia - understanding paramilitary violence, a brief history
Her life changes!
On the same year that her mother left, she eventually came back in December. Johemir was very happy and excited that her mother had come home, but her happiness did not last long. She was told that they were moving out of the city of Monteria, and were moving to the banana plantation just outside the town known as Apartado, where her cousins lived. Johemir was not used to the sounds of the countryside. It seemed to quiet. Instead of car horns and the daily sounds of much movement among people, she heard light wind gusts and bird calls in the distance. At night she heard the chirp of crickets and was unable to sleep for a while. Johemir heard terrible stories about the countryside. The armed groups of men constantly patrolled the area and abducted children, forcing them to enter training to become soldiers. Now she really could not sleep! Her mother said that she needed to move in with her cousins in the city of Apartado. In Apartado, she got the first chance in her life to get an education and go to school. In school, she was elected class representative, in 1996. Soon after, Johemir's work was noticed and a women named Graca Machel came to Apartado, putting the town on the map. This is because, the student council went to school districts, to teach children abut their rights, and what they can do to make their lives better.
Colombia resettles conflict-displaced farmers
Johemir is recruited for the "Return to Happiness" program!
In 1997, the "Return to Happiness" program began. This program was designed to help displaced families all across Colombia, and gave them homes and whatever they needed to get back on their feet again. Almost everyday, Johemir saw displaced families arrive on buses around town. But she didn't know then that she would soon be a part of that. Soon Johemir was recruited to the program too help those families and she immediately accepted. Even though she was doing a great cause, she was not liked by many people. She received many death threats which frightened her, but she didn't give up. After she was in the program for a while, she did much work that adults were used too. She felt like her childhood was slipping away from her, and she would never get the chance to be like a regular kid. But in 2000, she and three other people from the"Children's Movement for Peace" were invited to the United Nations to talk about their work and things that they could do in the future. They showed the U.N. the CNN film about them from 1999. The "Return to Happiness" program and the U.N. went to the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, and to a huge amusement park with displaced families. And to top it all off, in 2001, they had had a children's walk for kidnappings throughout Apartado. More than 300 children and teenagers were involved in this walk. Johemir had the greatest time that day. She hopes that the world is full of peace, joy, and freedom someday. And that with the "Return to Happiness" program and the United Nations, she can achieve that.