Juliana, a promising future

14 Diciembre 2020

Juliana is an inspiring young woman; she is in school, but from now on she is clear about what she wants to do with her future. With the support of UNFPA, this Colombian-Venezuelan has a clear life project, she wants to embrace the world, she has learned to love herself more and more and to give her best to achieve her goals.



“In my spare time I love to draw, and since I am going to study a professional career, I want to have a house in the country for myself and my family, so what I draw the most are cabins, animals and landscapes.” She speaks with serenity, but with the confidence that characterizes her. Since she lived with her grandfather in Venezuela, in a rural area, she enjoys living in Arauca, Colombia, but she longs to hear the song of the birds again, see her grandfather work the land, and feel the fresh breeze every morning.


Arauca is one of the departments with the highest number of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, it is also the place of return for many Colombian families who at some point had to go to Venezuela, but must now return. Juliana was born in Apure, but was raised in San Cristóbal, Venezuela, where she lived with her Colombian grandparents until 2017.


“I was raised by my grandparents in Venezuela. I was 13 years old when my grandmother passed away and I came to Colombia to live with my mother and father, also to help them with their business. I miss people because that’s where I grew up [….] My father is Colombian, from Boyacá, but he has lived in Arauca his entire life. My mother is from Venezuela, my grandfather is Colombian and my grandmother is also from Norte de Santander, so I have both nationalities.”


For this young woman, the border only means crossing a river, for her there are not many differences, she continues listening to the same music she likes, the food is very similar, people are friendly here and there; however, at the beginning she did notice that they were a little more demanding at school, and that today the internet and opportunities are better in Colombia, she is also happy to have learned many new things here.


“Since I have attended the UNFPA spaces I have learned many things, for example, I had no knowledge of sex education, I had never, never heard of it, and today I am one of those who talks about it to other girls. At the beginning I had many doubts, well, I still do, but we can ask and then we make some billboards; I love it because I learn while drawing.”


Carmen, her mother, was the first to attend the UNFPA workshops; at home they began to see her differently, her temper changed, she listened more and gave some beautiful advice, Juliana says with a laugh. “Since she started the program with UNFPA she told me that the trainings were very nice. Most of all I like it because it helps us to value ourselves as women, it helps us to raise our self-esteem and to love ourselves.”


23% of Venezuelan mothers who give birth in Colombia are adolescents, which shows that the particular needs of this population and girls may be neglected in the context of the response to migration. Adolescent pregnancy, particularly in these conditions of greater vulnerability, puts at risk the adequate transition of girls-adolescents into adulthood, their capacity for resilience and long-term recovery from the crisis, reducing their opportunities for a better life.


This is why ensuring access to services and information on sexual and reproductive health for adolescents, supporting their participation in the humanitarian response, enabling their social inclusion, the empowerment of girls and the enrichment of their future projects, can save lives.


“I am clear about my goals and life project. There we all draw today, and then we draw how we see ourselves in 5 and 10 years, and of course, you start to think about what you want and can and cannot do, for example, my life project also includes that I do not want to get pregnant at a very early age because I want to have a profession first, I am going to be a psychologist.”


Teen pregnancy has an impact on women’s lives and opportunities, which is why Juliana’s informed decision about not having children at an early age means more and better options for her and the country.


Juliana’s life takes place in the everyday life of any young woman her age, she goes to school, helps her family at her house, likes to take selfies, go out with her friends, and has just gotten a boyfriend; what makes her different is that she has strengthened her life project. Therefore, in addition to normal activities, she takes time to continue her leadership training. For Juliana, being a leader in her neighborhood and school is something that fills her with pride, responsibility and gratitude, she feels that her voice has power and therefore, with the support of UNFPA, she has been trained and learned about women’s rights, gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive rights.


“For about a year I have been participating in UNFPA spaces, there I met many girls my age, several women there have shared experiences that helped me a lot, and I have learned about my rights and about possibilities, despite being very young, I have explained to many schoolmates about the value we have as women and that we cannot remain silent in the face of violence, whether physical or verbal.”


Under the principle of Leaving no one behind, girls, adolescents and young people, especially in crisis contexts, are a priority for UNFPA’s humanitarian response, they not only take the knowledge received, but also amplify the message, generating proposals and actions in their environment and with the people around them, “I invite girls who I think need to go there, in the neighborhood I am seen as a leader, they look to me for advice and I feel very good, some ask me some questions, and that is why it is important for me to continue training. I am very grateful for everything they teach me and because everything I do leads me to achieving the goals that I have set for myself.”