Cecilia attends our project to tackle child recruitment in Bogotá

Cecilia’s story

“When I first left the guerrilla, I was placed in an institution in a city three hours from my home town. Over 100 girls lived there, with six or seven sleeping in each room and only 3 bathrooms for everyone. The people running the institution were very strict. We had to get up at 3am to clean the whole place and they wouldn’t even let us near any windows as they thought we would escape.

One day, I got on a plane to Bogotá with a person who works at Colombian Social Services. They explained that I was coming to be part of CRAN’s project and live with a foster family who wanted to take care of me. At first, I found it very difficult and I had many arguments with my foster family. I felt angry, rebellious and wanted to get back at the world for treating me so badly.

Since starting at CRAN, I have adapted and achieved a lot. I even started high school and graduated three months ago. My foster family take care of me whenever I am ill or sad or angry. I am now a lot more confident as I feel I have a strong bond with my family, who treat me with love and respect. I used to feel like I was nobody. Now, my foster mother often tells me she is proud of me.

I also enjoy CRAN’s workshops, where I meet other kids who are in the same programme and go on outings.

My dream is to study hospitality and tourism in order to be a businesswoman and have my own hotel chain. I am about to start studying an apprenticeship in services in restaurants, a big step towards this dream.

During my first year with CRAN, I often thought of escaping. I am glad I didn’t, as I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be on CRAN’s programme and I wouldn’t have been able to share my story.”

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