Decades of internal conflict in Colombia have resulted in the recruitment of thousands of children as soldiers. MADRE’s sister organization, Taller de Vida, continues to work with former child soldiers, as well as children who are at risk of being recruited. Taller de Vida provides these youth with art, theater and dance programs to support recuperation and prevent recruitment.
Using new multimedia tools from workshops that MADRE volunteer Miguel Macias conducted, former child soldiers have been able to heal and voice their experiences through the arts.
Jorge, one former child soldier, expressed how Taller de Vida provided him with alternatives when economic hardships were pushing him towards rejoining an armed group:
“I found the organization Taller de Vida, which supports me through the arts. I participated in a project called Bambu, where they taught me to believe in myself as a person, they gave me a job, and helped me live a life with dignity and not hurting anyone.”
Transitioning back into civil society can be even more difficult for girls and young women. Some young women have recorded their stories in audio clips, while Carolyn Flores and Yovani Mora produced a video entitled “What does it mean to be a woman in Colombia?”
The arts programs facilitated by Taller de Vida go beyond just serving as an outlet for expressing personal memories. One group of young men in Bogota were able to apply the tools and experience from the work with Taller de Vida to achieve their goal of starting an Atlantic folk music group called Kayeke. The members of Kayeke were able to actively use art to oppose violence, and have since performed at various art shows around Bogota.
Full web posts of these stories and Taller de Vida’s work with other young people overcoming the trauma of war-torn childhoods can be accessed at MADRE’s blog: http://madreblogs.typepad.com/mymadre/colombia-child-soldiers/