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| 4/24/2009 12:00:00 AM

Postcard from Medellín

Apr 24 -- In a hillside classroom in Medellín, a group of teenage boys take crayons to long sheets of unfurled paper. One draws the detonation pin of a hand grenade. Another sketches blood splattered across a body. Scrawled words say what the pictures can't: Hunger. Kidnappings. Revenge. Displacement. Distress.

These boys, ages 14 to 19, are drawing the stories of their lives. They used to be members of Colombian guerrilla groups. Now, after putting down their arms, they are trying to rejoin civilian life.

"The biggest challenge is making them emotionally whole again," says Philippe Houdard, founder of the Miami-based Developing Minds Foundation, "to get them from being killing machines to normal human beings." The rehabilitation program, started in 2003 and supported by Developing Minds and Colombia's Family Welfare Institute, offers housing, recreation, counseling, schooling and vocational training to former child soldiers. The 31 boys here are among the nearly 3,000 minors who have given up guerrilla life under a 2003 government amnesty program.
 
Read more here.
 
Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.
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