Postcard from Medellín

As Colombia gains ground in the battle against insurgents, its focus turns to rehabilitating former child soldiers. A guerrilla war's youngest fighters come in from the cold

Nadja Drost

This drawing of a former child soldier shows him surrendering his weapons.

In a hillside classroom in Medellín, a group of teenage boys take crayons to long sheets of unfurled paper. One draws the detonation pin of a hand grenade. Another sketches blood splattered across a body. Scrawled words say what the pictures can't: Hunger. Kidnappings. Revenge. Displacement. Distress.

These boys, ages 14 to 19, are drawing the stories of their lives. They used to be members of Colombian guerrilla groups. Now, after putting down their arms, they are trying to rejoin civilian life.

"The biggest challenge is making them emotionally whole again," says Philippe Houdard, founder of the Miami-based Developing Minds Foundation,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!