Life kept getting worse

Then I found rap and dance.

The drug trade and an ongoing conflict make parts of Bogota, Columbia very dangerous, especially for young girls. This is one girl’s story.

My name is Leidy, and I’m a 17-year-old Colombian girl. I had a rough start in life. My mother left when I was a baby.

My dad is in and out of the house, and my life. Once he hit my hand with a hammer to punish me for stealing. After that, I was blamed whenever things went missing at home. I started spending a lot more time outside my house just to get away.

At school, I was teased for being chubby. All the bullying really took its toll. I started skipping school. Eventually I stopped going altogether.

One day I bumped into a group of young people who didn’t like school either. They invited me to hang out.

Before long I was drinking and smoking. When my dad found out, he became angry and beat me. I left. My grandmother reported me as a runaway. I was picked up and placed in a correctional home for teenagers.

At the home I met a man who played the piano. He’s from an organisation called Ayara, that helped girls were looking for somewhere to fit in and be accepted.

The organisation taught me how to express myself through rap music and dance.

Singing flows through my veins and when I’m dancing, I forget all the problems and pressures in my life.

There are still bumps in my journey, but I’m determined. Instead of running away from my problems, now I come to Ayara and dance when I'm stressed. I want to earn a living as an artist and breakdance every chance I get.