Escaping from Hell

©UNICEF/GUA2016/SurProfundo
©UNICEF/GUA2016/SurProfundo

Andrés was literally out on the street at 15 and the gang was the only environment that welcomed him and gave him an opportunity to grow, have money and feel protected. Somehow the gang became his family, the family that abandoned him early in life.

The environment inside the gang was exciting at the beginning. He joined and started stealing and extorting. As he went up the ranks in the gang, he earned more money and in his leisure time he had all the liquor and women he could wish for. However, he was always confined to the neighborhood or territory of the gang, because leaving it meant the likelihood of dying at the hands of a rival gang or the police.

Soon he was arrested, which was to be expected, since there is very little likelihood of remaining unscathed for a long time. “Either you die a violent death or you end up in jail,” says Andrés, and either of the two happens soon.

The years Andrés spent behind bars made him think about his life and the possibility of turning it around. Meeting his wife was another crucial factor. Now he had someone to fight for, a reason to change and hope for a better future.

©UNICEF/GUA2016/SurProfundo

Just as importantly, UNICEF advocates strongly to ensure that each girl, boy and adolescent has a fair chance to grow and develop fully from birth, a fundamental factor to prevent children like Andrés from falling into the grip of organized crime.

Andrés doesn’t want to talk about his past any more. He paid dearly for what he did and today his life is totally focused on his family, on getting ahead and giving his son the affection and possibilities he did not get.

Whenever we protect an adolescent from violence, there is hope.

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UNICEF Guatemala

UNICEF trabaja para salvar la vida de las niñas, niños y adolescentes en Guatemala. Para defender y garantizar el cumplimento de sus derechos.