Juan usually take off his cap inside, where the sun can't burn that point in his head where nothing protects his brain.

Juan's caps protect
his brain...

Juan always wears a cap. He thinks it looks good, but there is also another reason. The cap protects the soft spot on his head where the bullet entered. There is no longer a bone there to protect his brain. Juan is a member of the Children's Peace Movement.

- I am 16 and attend class 8. I live in the poorest area on the slopes above Colombia's second largest town, Medellin. My town is world famous because one of the world's worst criminals, Pablo Escobar lived here. He made billions from manufacturing and smuggling cocaine to Europe and the USA.He had several thousand people working for him, but he was shot to death by police some years ago. In Medeliin many think that Pablo Escobar was a good man because he built houses for the poor. But I don't think he was so good. Many children ruin their health with cocaine, or basuca, a kind of drug which one becomes completely crazy by using.

A miracle
- In Medellin we have much violence. In every block there is a gang who have pistols and knives and keep track of who comes and goes. The gangs fight often and shoot at each other.
Late at night ten years ago my mother took a taxi to to take me and my little brother, who was then two, home. Some men drove by us on a motorcycle and shot at us. I sat farthest forward in the taxi. Mamma and Sinnig sat in the back seat. A bullet came in through the windshield and into the back of my head, then continued through one of Sinnig's eyes. It remains in his head. I don't remember anything. Everything just went black.
- I woke up in the hospital. The bullet had made a hole in my skull and part of my brain had run out. Everyone thought I was going to die. The doctors said there was no chance for me, that it was meaningless to try to save me. But there came a doctor who had another opinion. He operated on me and managed to save my life. He put in new bone to cover the hole in my skull.
Everybody says that it was a miracle that I survived! But it took a long time before I could walk again. The men on the motorcycle were chasing thieves who had escaped in a taxi. They thought it was our taxi. This is why they shot at us. We have since moved from the area where we then lived for it was very dangerous. Gangs shoot at each other nearly every day.

He helps children
Now it's ten years since I took the bullet in my skull, but I can't go bare-headed in the sun as it burns me and I become sick. At one place I haven't any bone in my skull. There, my skin lies directly against my brain. That's why I always put on a cap to protect my head. Over time I have acquired a very fine collection of caps!
- When I grow up I want to be a marine biologist or a photographer, but not in Columbia, rather in Spain, Panama or Italy. I have an uncle in Panama, perhaps I'll be able to live with him. Now I try to help children in my block. We have a Children's Peace Movement here and we have "hands for peace". Every hand represents one of the rights of the child. We teach school children what it means. Many children at school are disturbed by the violence they have seen in the area or because their parents beat them. One friend at school had to run away when the guerillas shot at their village. Another friend's father was murdered during a robbery. Children suffer because of this. I like children a lot and want to study child psychology.
- I feel safe when I am in the middle of my home block where I know everybody. But I don't dare to go into other parts of the town. I am afraid that I will be shot at if I go further away. I dream about a town where one can play freely in the parks, without being afraid that some will shoot of steal. I think the guerilla war is stupid. One doesn't win anything by killing people. War doesn't give anything more than death. People lose their lives, families are split up and children become orphans.

Read about the dangerous meeting