When guerrilla soldiers threatened Amparo in her home in northern Colombia she had to make the most terrifying decision of her life – flee with her children and leave everything behind, or die.
“We had three choices: to leave, to give way, or to die,” she says. “We took nothing - just the clothes we were standing up in.”
Leaving the island where she had lived all her life, Amparo fled to the nearby city of Neiva, where she arrived in total shock.
“We had problems – how to eat, where to sleep?” she says. “All my life I’d lived in the countryside. Suddenly I was thrown into a new life in the city. I had no skills and there was no land to grow food. Everything changed.”
Amparo held on to her faith and prayed that God would take care of her family through their ordeal.
Thankfully CAFOD’s church partner in Colombia, Pastoral Social, reached out to Amparo – giving her the lifeline she needed.
Through Pastoral Social, we helped Amparo and other vulnerable people in her community to open a small furniture-making business. We provided the training, tools and equipment they needed to get started. And because running a business is a huge challenge, we continue to offer advice and support to Amparo and her colleagues whenever they need it.
Even though it’s still early days for the business, a regular wage means big changes:
“The business project is a great opportunity – the best I’ve had in my life,” she says. “Now we have food to eat and regular money to buy clothes and shoes. Best of all, I rely on myself – I can provide what my family needs.”
Amparo’s life has been transformed, but there are thousands of other people in Colombia and around the world who need our help because their lives have been devastated by conflict.
Throughout Lent, as we reflect on our own lives and prepare for Easter, many of us will be fasting or giving something up. Whether you’re sacrificing chocolate and biscuits, or fasting this Lent, you can help people like Amparo by donating the money you save to CAFOD.
Just a small amount can make huge changes. As Amparo says: “My life has changed. I am a new person. I don’t have the same money needs, I have friends and I trust people. My dream used to be to return to the countryside but now I have a new life. God willing I will never have to leave this home.’