Mayerly Sanchez, 16 Colombia
When Mayerly Sanchez was 12 her best friend was killed.
-Things must not continue like this, I thought, says Mayerly.
Today Mayerly is 16 and one
of those who have been part of The Children's Peace Movement from the
- If we are only a small group
who talk about peace we can be killed. But no one can kill ten million
Colombians who want peace, she says.
Mayerly's home region was once uninhabited land. But
eight years ago thousands of refugees came to the capital Bogota when
there was fighting all over the country. They had no place to live and
built simple houses in the fields.
Today the area is still poor, but Mayerly's home has
electricity and running water and most of the roads have been paved. It
is dangerous to walk alone after dark on the streets where Mayerly lives.
Young people have knives and guns and many have been killed in gang fights.
If Mayerly stays late at a friend's house she almost always spends the
night there and goes home early the next morning, so that she will not
be robbed and can feel safe.
It is terrible when someone you love is killed, remembers Mayerly. Milton
was like a brother who protected me and helped me with my lessons. And
so suddenly, because life is so unfair, he is dead and gone. It is unfair
for all of those who remain. Suddenly you receive no more help, suddenly
the person you loved so much is no longer there. There is a big emptiness.
the same time, in 1996, Mayerly was invited to a meeting with 27 other
children, from ten organizations and from all the country's regions. They
considered how one could improve children's lives in Colombia. Mayerly
and her friends sat together a long time and listened to the adults. But
finally they asked to be left alone.
wanted to find our own solutions. And someone came up with the idea of
creating a movement over the entire country for children who support peace
and are opposed to violence. One of the suggestions was that children
ought to be able to vote, exactly like adults. And why not vote on the
children's rights which adults had decided on.