Mayra Hernandez receives therapy at CIREC, a center that helps physically disabled children learn to use prosthetics and heal emotional trauma.
Copyright © Donna De Cesare, 2004
I lost my leg but also my father and my grandparents. Someone knocked on the door and my papa went to open it. But he before he reached the door, a bomb exploded and the bricks fell on him. It killed him but I didn’t know because I fainted. My whole body was asleep.
People say that it was a guerrilla of the FARC* who left the bomb in the house next door to ours. If it was, then she knew us. She left with her kids that morning so they wouldn’t get hurt. I don’t know how she could do this knowing we were still there. They say it was because the Vice President Francisco Santos was going to pass by. So when the soldiers who were bodyguards passed the bomb exploded and some of them were injured. Some became deaf. But the ones killed were my papa and grandparents.
I didn’t think anything at first. I didn’t know my father was dead. I didn’t know that my leg was mush. When they brought me to Bogot the doctors here told me that my leg was infected and it would kill me if they didn’t amputate.
When they told me that I didn’t want to live. I told them to let me die. You feel like you are the only one. You think of all the things you can’t do.
The surgeon who operated on me was very kind. She saved my life. The psychologist told me I could learn to walk again. She was right. Little by little you learn to do things again– new things too. This weekend was the first time I was in a pool. I got in and I learned to swim. It was fun.
It is important for children who don’t have a leg or an arm to know that they are not alone. In Colombia the sad reality is there are many children like me.
* (Revolutionary Armed Forces of ColombiaÑthe oldest and largest existing guerrilla group in Latin America)