Stories: Colombia

  • She spent half her life as a rebel soldier in Colombia before fleeing to save her baby

    Years before Leidy Johana escaped on a motorcycle from the stifling jungles of Colombia in the dead of night, a forbidden baby in her belly, she was just a rebel without a cause. She grew up on a tomato farm and loved her doting parents and nine siblings but grew restless babysitting, going to school and tending to the crop. ...

  • These Colombian women built their own city to escape violence. But peace is still elusive.

    A decade ago, unknown arsonists burned down a community center in northern Colombia where children were schooled and recreational activities were held. The center was empty. The effort, it appeared, was to intimidate the women who had just moved into the neighborhood. Within a year, the center bounced back, rebuilt by resilient women who would not be driven away...

  • Families brave generations of Alzheimer’s in Colombia

    Medellin, Colombia - When Gladys Betancur Piedrahita was a young girl growing up on a coffee farm in the Andes mountain town of Angostura in Colombia, her grandmother fell ill. Gladys watched her mother and aunt care for their mother before she died. Soon after, Gladys' aunt developed the same mysterious illness. She suffered for three years until, at the...

  • Colombia’s female FARC fighters wage a new war, for gender parity

    When Angie Rios, 27, left to join communist rebels as a teenager, she told her mother never to change her phone number. Nine years later, Rios is a seasoned guerrilla and sports a pierced eyebrow, a bandana, and gumboots, tempered by feminine flourishes – rhinestones dangle from her earlobes and throat; her fingernails are painted pink. When the peace deal was...

  • Voices From a Desert’s Drought

    Forty-five-year-old Luis Socarras leads me in the oppressive heat, along a sandy path towards La Completa’s village well. We weave through barren shrubs and cacti, and step into a clearing. Scrawny goats slurp thick, green water from a shallow pond. Luis tells me, “People think there isn’t life in Guajira’s desert, but they...

  • Colombian Refugees Seek Justice in Peace Deal

    After three years of negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC rebels in the Cuban capital, Havana, a peace deal that could bring more than five decades of conflict to an end, appears to be in sight. On Tuesday, an agreement on the crucial sticking point of victim reparations and special tribunals to try former members of FARC, the Revolutionary...

  • Colombia Peace Deal Update: Refugees Displaced by Violence Say They’ll Never Return

    A group of Ecuadorian children surrounded Yesenia’s 6-year-old daughter in the playground, taunting her. They pushed her face into the ground. “Dirty Colombian,” they said. "Go back to your country." It was just one of many incidents of bullying that her children, all under the age of 13, have faced at school since...

  • How Some Colombians Survive on Less Than One Liter of Water a Day

    Thousands of people are struggling to survive on less than a liter of water a day in La Guajira, Colombia. Guajira is home to the Wayuu people, Colombia’s largest indigenous population. But severe water scarcity is devestating Wayuu subsistence practices. Crops and livestock perished in a four-year drought. Jaguays (community water pods) evaporated, and...

  • Wayuu Communities Struggle to Survive Water Shortages in Colombia

    “Look at these puddles! This is fantastic!" my driver cheered, every time he slowed to navigate a tricky patch of mud. “We might even have to stop the car early, and walk!” I’d never seen a driver take so much delight in poor road conditions. But for Marcos Nuñez, every clumpy wet trench...