“17 August 2012. I was at home, in my house. We were cooking and the TV was on. I was six-months pregnant. I was going to put my five-year-old son to bed when I heard a noise. It all happened so quickly. There was an explosion, a loud bang, and then silence. I wanted to scream and shout and call my husband. I looked for my son, my child, my love, and I heard screaming. I had blood all over the stomach and body. My head felt heavy. They were shouting “Xiemna”, over and over again. My son’s body was still. I couldn’t breathe properly. They rushed me to the clinic in Cali. The doctors shouted: ‘It’s really serious! “It’s really serious!’ I just kept asking: ‘Where are my children?’ Slowly, steadily, I began to feel the pain. It was violent, heavy, bitter. That’s when it dawned on me: they were dead. My body was torn apart. I had grenade shrapnel in my head and wounds on my forehead, breast, hands, hips and lungs,” says Xiemna softly, her eyes welling with tears. “Within seconds, a grenade had torn my life apart.”
Armando, her husband, adds: “We live in an indigenous reserve, El Nilo, in Cauca, a departamento badly affected by the conflict in Colombia. Someone threw a grenade through the window of our house.”
Although Xiemna was treated in hospital, she’s still heavily traumatised: “Thanks to HI and Tierra de Paz, I’ve been given psychological support. I also discovered Christianity, which has given me a lot of strength. I feel much calmer again now, and I don’t feel hatred or the need for revenge anymore.”
“We weren’t going to let ourselves be beaten by this,” Armando adds. “HI and Tierra de Paz helped us set up our new home-made yoghurt business. We had some training from a dairy producer and then we were given some equipment - a fridge, cooking hobs, and so on. At first, I went into the mountains to sell my blackberry and pineapple yoghurt from door to door. Now it’s more by word of mouth. We’ve built a kitchen in the garden that complies with hygiene standards. It’s a real business - our driving force. My dream is to sell our yoghurts in a supermarket.
Xiemna adds calmly: “We’re slowly moving forward. I help other mine victims talk about their feelings. I give them what I wanted to have. And our son, Samuel, who’s two and half years old, is our little bonus.”