Only Women and Children Live in This War-Torn Village
In Colombia’s mountainous northwest, three hours’ walk from the closest town over paths haunted by guerrillas, lies the village of La Puria. It’s home to around a hundred indigenous Emberá Katío people. In their language, ẽberá can mean human being, indigenous person, or man.
But there are no men here.
Colombia’s decades-long civil war has eroded La Puria. Some men were recruited by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) or the National Liberation Army (ELN), the country’s two largest leftist guerrilla groups. Others were victims of the conflict, as both guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries made use of violent tactics—including kidnapping, setting land mines, and drug trafficking.
Now women, children, and teen mothers are the only ones left in La Puria.
Where men once ventured into the rainforest to hunt and gather food, young women now take the lead—wielding machetes with their babies strapped to their backs. The current chief is a 26-year-old mother of four. The peals of playing kids ring through the houses their mothers have built themselves. Many of these children were borne by teenage women who were raped by soldiers belonging to a local guerilla splinter group.
Even now, the kids of La Puria bear the marks of war. Last year, during an art therapy activity in the village's school, nearly all of the children used their crayons and colored paper to draw pictures of people with guns.
A lot of war, but many of the happy indigenous used bright colors: the color in the middle of that gray and so much sadness ".