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Authors: Michelle Mulder

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Yeny and the Children for Peace

BOOK: Yeny and the Children for Peace
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A Kids' Power Book!

Books inspired by real stories of young people who
have taken action to make their world a better place

Praise for Maggie
and the Chocolate War
by Michelle Mulder

“A great bridge between picture books and novels for early readers—highly recommended for community library kids' historical fiction collections.”

—
Children's Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

“Maggie and the Chocolate War
connects readers to a time in history when a small group of children stood up for themselves and empowered other kids across the nation.”

—
Canadian Bookseller Magazine

Yeny and the Children for Peace

A Kids' Power Book

Yeny and the Children for Peace

Michelle Mulder

L
IBRARY AND
A
RCHIVES
C
ANADA
C
ATALOGUING IN
P
UBLICATION

Mulder, Michelle
Yeny and the children for peace / by Michelle Mulder.

(Kids' power series)

ISBN 978-1-897187-45-6

1. Movimiento de los niños por la paz (Colombia)—Juvenile fiction.
2. Children and peace—Colombia—Juvenile fiction. 3. Peace movements—
Colombia—Juvenile fiction. 4. Children and violence—Colombia—Juvenile
fiction. I. Title.

PS8626.U435Y46 2008        jC813'.6        C2008-904616-1

Copyright © 2008 by Michelle Mulder

Edited by Gina Gorrell
Cover and text design by Melissa Kaita

Printed and bound in Canada

Second Story Press gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program
.

Published by
S
ECOND
S
TORY
P
RESS
20 Maud Street, Suite 401
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M5V2M5
www.secondstorypress.ca

Visit Michelle Mulder's website at
www.michellemulder.com

Contents

Author's Note

Chapter 1 Yeny, the New Kid

Chapter 2 The Meanest Boy in Grade Four

Chapter 3 Stay Away

Chapter 4 Carnival

Chapter 5 First the Soccer Field, Then … Colombia!

Chapter 6 Spread the Word

Chapter 7 Another Chance

Chapter 8 Stand Up for Your Rights

Chapter 9 Let Me Go!

Chapter 10 Letters

Chapter 11 Kids Make History

Historical Note

Glossary

Acknowledgments

Photo Credits

for Clara and Juan

Author's Note

In the northwest corner of South America, there's a country full of mountains, jungles, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It's a place where most people speak Spanish—the language brought to South America by Spanish invaders five hundred years ago—and many also speak the languages of the native people who lived here long before.

Colombia has shores on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The Andes Mountains run from north to south, and the capital city of Bogotá is high up above sea level, close to the center of the country. If you go to the capital, you can see where people made the first gold coins in the Americas almost four hundred years ago. You can ride a funicular up the hill of
Monserrate, or explore the exhibits at the Children's Museum. In other parts of Colombia, you can hike through the jungle, climb a papaya tree, pick fresh bananas, discover how coffee grows, and see an anteater or a spider monkey. You can find children your age who love to sing and dance and play, and who are always ready for a new adventure. They'll tell you that their country is a rich and exciting one, and that they're proud to be part of it.

But Colombia is also a troubled country. For more than forty years many different groups have been fighting each other for power, and it is now one of the most violent places in the world. Every year the fighting has killed thousands—sometimes tens of thousands—of people. Often these people were men, women, and children who just happened to get caught in the middle.

All over Colombia, people are working toward peace. But this is much more difficult than it sounds. For one thing, Colombians have to be careful about what they say. It can be dangerous to speak out against any one of the fighting groups. So instead of naming them, Colombians often call them simply the
grupos armados
—the armed groups. And when people talk about their own homes, they don't always name places either. Being too specific about anything might have terrible consequences.

The characters in the story you are about to read are invented, but they're based on the lives of many brave children who are working hard and courageously, every day, to bring peace to their country.

CHAPTER 1
Yeny, The New Kid

Happy first day of school!” Juan cheered.

Sunlight peeped in at the window, and through the orange curtain around her bed Yeny could see her cousin bouncing up and down. This day had taken forever to come. It was already October, and the school year had started way back in March. Back then, Yeny and her family had still been living in the village in the mountains. She had never imagined living in a city . . . but then, she'd never imagined what had happened in August, either. Now her life was split into “before” and “after,” and today, halfway through the school year, she would start at a new school, in a city a hundred times bigger than her village.

“This is going to be the best day ever,” Juan called, continuing his crazy dance on his side of the curtain. Yeny missed her village, but she loved having someone her own age to play with, now that both families were sharing the same house. Yeny's older sister, Elena, had gotten so boring lately, only wanting to spend time with other teenagers. But Juan was lots of fun.

Yeny laughed and jumped up from her mattress on the floor, pulling off her pajamas and putting on her new school clothes as quickly as she could. She had laid out her uniform before going to sleep. It used to belong to her oldest cousin, Rosa, but it fit Yeny perfectly, and she loved the dark blue skirt and the crisp white blouse. In the village, children wore whatever clothes they had to school, but here in the city it seemed important to look especially tidy.

“What do you think we'll do first in school today?” Yeny asked Juan, when she had pushed the curtain aside. Though the sun was barely up, the concrete floor of the living room was already cleared. Her parents had pushed back their own green curtain and leaned their mattress against the wall. They had made neat piles of their clothing in one corner, so that people could walk freely to the five chairs around the little television.

Across the room, the whole family had gathered for break-fast, and Yeny could smell fried
arepas
, the crispy corn pancakes that that she loved. Her stomach growled. She smiled at Juan.

“We'll do history first,” he said. “We always do that first thing on Monday mornings.”

Yeny groaned, but only because she knew that her cousin expected it. Secretly, she didn't care what they studied that day, as long as she got to spend time with Juan and meet other kids. Often, she wished she could go back in time, to August, before the men with guns had come to her village. Her mother said that it did no good to think that way, though, so Yeny was trying to forget the past and to start a new life. A safe, city life.

But she missed her best friend, Maria Cristina. Before she left home, her friend had told her that once she was in the city, Yeny should try to have as many adventures as possible. María Cristina wanted to hear about every detail of Yeny's new life the next time they met. Whenever that would be.

At least it wasn't hard to find excitement. Here, everything was different from what Yeny was used to. At home, she'd shared a one-room wooden house with her parents, her sister Elena, and her younger brother, Carlitos. It had a dirt floor, and a metal roof that made a wonderful racket when it rained. When it wasn't raining, they spent most of their time outside. Mamá cut up vegetables and meat on the big chopping table next to the house and cooked over a fire close by. The washtub was outside too, and the garden, and the chair that her father sat in when he got back from the fields and wanted to relax.

BOOK: Yeny and the Children for Peace
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