Andrew’s Story

His name is Andrew, but he could be called Edwin, Nelson or Hector. The first time I saw him, it took about an hour – an hour that I spent with him, drawing on a blackboard while one of our legal advocates interviewed his mother. Finally he responded and gave me a smile, timidly, as if it were the first time he’d smiled in ages.

After that hour, after seeing him finally smile from my constant attempts to involve him in the blackboard, drawing people, cars, birds, houses, and volcanoes into an improvised landscape of Quito, I came to realize that his intractable seriousness was a result of the trauma of having endured from childhood the persecution of his family. In a healthy environment free from violence, Andrew probably would have developed more as I did in my own childhood. But it took a whole hour of drawing to draw a smile from him.

The next time I saw Andrew, a couple of months later, he smiled immediately in greeting. As a result of Asylum Access’s work to help Andrew and his family find protection from the violence in their lives, Andrew no longer lives in fear. Safe in a new home, his family no longer face threats from the armed groups that attacked and persecuted them in Colombia.

Andrew is now receiving specialized medical care and his prospects, according to doctors’ reports, are much better. But I don’t need a report to tell me this: I see Andrew, and he smiles. His family is finally safe, and this is something that Andrew, like any child, clearly feels very deeply.

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