The Alvaralice Foundation showcases and supports the Colomb!anas project as part of its Reflection and Dialogue focus area. We invite you to read the story of Julissa Mosquera, a representative of the Afro-Colombian community.
Mosquera was a natural leader since childhood, tempered by the need to survive, who unwillingly became a very young mother only to fall in love with motherhood. She never knew the love of a father, being raised by her mother and grandmother, later to be separated from her family and becoming a brave survivor of Colombia’s long-standing internal conflict.
Julissa Mosquera is a strong and courageous Colombian woman. In her amber eyes, broad smile and exuberant laughter, you can read the story of a resilient woman, who overcame the consequences of the war, a cruel episode of sexual abuse, two suicide attempts and a failed attempted murder. Nevertheless, she was never able to overcome her phobia of wearing dresses.
“I don’t wear dresses, that’s not me. I do not feel good in them, I feel better in pants,” shares the woman who studied social work and has devoted herself in recent years to defending victims’ rights and those of the afro community.
Julissa’s voice became a part of the ‘Colomb!anas Collective Biography‘ with her personal story and her account of how she was reborn from the ashes. She describes herself “like a phoenix”. A native of the department of Chocó, she is an example of a strong Colombian woman.
Julissa talks about her life, her relationship with religion and with the women in her family. “Since childhood I was a leader, I grew up without a lot of things, but I always managed to help other needy children. I became like the ‘mommy’ of these children. That’s why I say that leaders are born, not made,” says this mother of three children, who presided for several years over a victims’ association in Chocó and because of the complaints they filed, ended up being taken and abused by several men and a woman who belonged to paramilitary groups.
“After that violent act I was very alone. I woke up 15 days later at the hospital in Quibdó. The wounds to my body were very serious, but so were those to my soul. I felt very lonely, friends, neighbors and even my mother blamed me for what had happened. It was very difficult for my children to understand, accept and forgive”, says Julissa.
In search of safety and to protect her children’s lives and her own, Julissa returned to Bogotá, and successfully raised her children as a single mother. Her children were able to study and she devoted herself to defending victims in order for them to find a path of resilience and become survivors. “I will not rest until Colombia recognizes Afro as equals, so that our culture is widely studied, recognized and our rights are upheld. Where there is an Afro-Colombian who needs me, I’ll be there”.
Learn more about Julissa Mosquera’s story, and the ten new Colombian women who joined their voices to our collective biographies in www.colombianas.org
When you hear a story, do you recognize yourself?
When you tell it, do you feel free?