Author’s note: Elisa is a very special person in my house here in Colombia. She and my host mom have known each other for 20 years, sharing a friendship in addition to an employer-housekeeper relationship. She is a positive and patient presence in our house, teaching me her delicious cooking techniques and telling stories about her grandchildren. She is a perfect exemplification of the beautiful strength and endurance of Colombian women. This is her story. 

I left my village, Momil, displaced by the injustice

Momil is a town in Cordoba province
Momil is a town in Cordoba province

and violence. They killed a lot, seizing peoples’ homes and terrorizing everyone. People lived in desperation.

I left by myself because my husband (whom I married at 15) had already abandoned me. I came with my four young daughters, and pregnant with the fifth. I brought them alone by bus to Barranquilla, where we stayed with my brother until I found work.

Eventually, I found a house and we lived there, my children and me. I worked and my girls studied; when I had the baby, I put her in a nursery and picked her up at night. I worked in restaurants and cleaning houses from 6 in the morning until 7 at night.

That’s the story of my life, what I’ve suffered. But thanks to God, I made it through. It’s been so much work, but here I am, with my children. Every single one of my 10 children made it: they finished high school, found spouses and now, at 56 years old, I have 16 grandchildren and even one great-granddaughter.

Nowadays, they are grateful to me for all that I’ve done for them. We meet in my house, not the first pre-fabricated house but my own real house, for every holiday or birthday.

Everything has changed in Colombia. It’s a country that is even while beautiful, has endured many tragedies. It’s been turned upside down by the drugs, by everything.

There is still guerrilla in area, but it’s not like before; there was a bloodbath and now it’s not like that anymore. We’ve suffered a lot, but we always get by. Like the saying goes: “Just keep going! Just keep going!”


Spanish Translation:

Sali de mi pueblo, Momil, desplazada por tanto injusticia que habia, mucha violencia. Mataban mucho, sacaron los hogares de uno, y maltrataban demasiado. Uno vivia desesperado.

sali solita porque mi companero (me case de 15 anios) ya me habia abandonado. Vine con las 4 ninas y embarazada con la quinta. Yo sola las llevaba en bus hacia Barranquilla, donde viviamos primero donde un hermano y me dio ayuda hasta que me consegui trabajo. Yo buscaba casa y alli sola viviamos, yo con los hijos. Yo trabajaba y las hijas estudiaban; cuando tuve la bebe, la puse en una guardaria y la buscaba en las tardes.

Yo misma me hice ser una mujer para ayudar a mis hijos. Ser madre y padre para mis hijos y sacarlos pa’ adelante. Y yo luche hasta que Dios me dio esa fuerza para luchar para mis hijos y viviera para ellos. No hay otra opcion, hay que trabajar y ayudar a sus hijos.

Eso es la historia de mi vida, lo que he sufrido en mi vida. Pero Gracias a Dios, salio adelante. Tanto trabajo que ha sido pero aqui estoy, con mis hijos. Cada uno salio adelante: terminaron sus estudios, buscaron parejas y ahora tengo 9 hijos, 16 nietos y hasta una visnieta.

Hoy en dia, ellos a mi me tienen agradecida por todo lo que he hecho para ellos. Reunimos en mi casa, ni de tabla sino de materiales, para cada festivo o cumpleanos.

Todo ha cambiado en Colombia. Es un pais que como a veces es sano, a la vez, hay muchas tragedias que han pasado. Ha sido tropeado por las drogas, por todas las cosas; habia una mataria y ahora no es asi. Todavia hay mucha guerrilla en la region, pero no es como antes. Hemos sufrido mucho, pero salimos adelante. Como dice el dicho: “Pa’ alla, pa’ alla!”



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