Alfonso Guerra and his family fled to various towns before settling in Cari Cari in northern Colombia. Credits: Caritas Colombia
For some people, life’s certainties don’t even stretch to the safety of a home. Fighting in Colombia between rebels, paramiliatries and the Government for over 45 years has forced millions of people to leave their homes to seek safety.
“When I was a child, I heard rumours about war and people killing each other, but I never thought I we would be involved,” said Alfonso Guerra, who has had to abandon his home due to the fighting.
The war that has rumbled on for decades in Colombia has not only forced millions of people to leave their homes to save their own and their family’s lives, but they also face the threat of kidnapping, torture and the risk of landmine injury.
The war that seemed so distant when he was a child, finally reached his hometown of Villanueva, Guajira when Mr Guerra was a father and husband.
“A shootout broke near my house. Me and my family were stuck in the middle,” he said. “We realised things were getting very difficult. We moved to the town because I became a nervous wreck.”
“We didn’t take much notice of what was happening. We let the world collapse and now we’re living with the consequences,” said Mr Guerra.
Mr Guerra and his family fled to various towns before settling in Cari Cari in northern Colombia. There, he runs someone else’s farm and is much more settled now he’s away from the fighting.
“Caritas has helped us psychologically, but it has also taught us how to organise ourselves,” he said. “It has taught us how to get work, which authorities to approach to protect our rights and where to go for healthcare.”
Caritas Colombia helps people who have been displaced by the war on various levels. It gives guidance to communities who are threatened with displacement, it offers emergency assistance to those who leave their homes, it negotiates with the authorities so that people get help and it supports and strengthens community groups so they are able to face their situation and rebuild their lives.
With the support of Caritas, people like Mr Guerra have a much better chance of starting a new life and giving their children some security. In this way, Caritas promotes peace among Colombians.
“The community has changed quite a bit. People feel harmony and respect for each other,” says Mr Guerra. “We’re going to put into practice the training we’re received and forget about fear.”