The voices of these two young adults have enormous strength, which is why "Alto El Fuego" works. It is a documentary produced by the Salesians of Don Bosco, that recounts the harsh experiences of "child soldiers" in the Colombian guerrillas.
There are already more than 50 years of armed conflict between the guerrillas of FARC and the ELN against the paramilitary groups, and the State. The conflict has caused many minors to be forced to use weapons.
Catalina and Manuel were under fifteen years old when they fired their first shot. They joined the FARC to flee poverty, a decision that they would later regret, because they not only lost loved ones, but they also lost themselves.
"I had moments where I felt like I was no longer in the world. There were some bombings that left my body marked, and I still have problems because of that. I had many fights, and in many of them I was saved thanks to God. It was very hard to lose the people that you cared for.”
Manuel was eight years old when he ran away from home with his older brother. They entered the guerrillas together, but then were separated. His brother was killed and Manuel decided to flee. He says that the most difficult thing to do is to begin to trust people again.
"The most difficult thing is starting a new life because when you are there, it's a totally different world. One in which you can't trust anybody, because even your best friends are your enemies.”
Catalina and Manuel were lucky. They say that the Salesians helped them realize that one could live life in another way: with love and trust.
The Salesian Community works in the City of Don Bosco in Medellín for the last 14 years. It has already helped more than 2,300 young victims of conflict, where they receive psychological assistance and they study or learn a trade. Ninety percent of them succeed in joining the work force.
They have clear objectives. Manuel has finished his studies in metalworking, and has already started his first projects. On the other hand, Catalina dreams of becoming a nurse.
"I graduated, and now I'll start college. It's what I've wanted most: to have my own home, and my desire is to become a professional nurse. Thanks to the Salesians I have been able to progress."
Both of their lives have made a radical change, and their testimonies are proof that there is always a second chance for those who fight for it.