Roller skater. Daughter. Team player.

“It was too dangerous to stay.”

Yadira, 15 years old: “I put on roller skates for the first time in Colombia. I was seven-years-old and my skates were a gift from my sister. I was really nervous, because it’s like going to a new school where you know no one, but I kept trying. At first I practiced at home by holding on to anything that could support me, and finally my sister took me out to skate on the street. After that we went every Sunday to a roller rink. One thing led to another and I started to like it.

My parents gave me protective gear without the helmet, so I had to wear my motorcycle helmet at the beginning. Everyone asked me what I was doing with it, but I just wanted to skate. Sometimes I fell, but you cannot consider yourself a roller skater if that doesn’t happen to you. When I fall or get blisters I can feel the pain but I stand up and I keep trying; the pain helps me get more strength, to achieve the goal. Each time I hear my mother and my friends cheering for me, I feel new energy.”

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Yadira practices at a roller rink. She loves relay race training because it helps her to feel the adrenaline and team spirit.(c) UNHCR/B. A. Armada Figueira/2015

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Yadira (middle) and her biggest supporters: Her mother Marisa, and her father Eduardo. (c) UNHCR/B. A. Armada Figueira/2015

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Yadira and her family fled Colombia when an armed group threatened to forcibly recruit her brothers and forced her mother to sew uniforms. Without telling family or friends, they left everything behind and crossed the border to Venezuela.

After one month in exile, Yadira fell in love with inline speed skating. She has already competed in different team skating competitions, and loves relay race training because it helps her to feel the adrenaline and team spirit. Her mother Marisa and her father Eduardo are her biggest fans and supporters. From the little money they have, they try to buy her basic sports equipment. Yadira’s first professional roller skates were built by her father, who assembled different parts of the skates he was able to afford. “My dream is to participate in the world competitions of inline speed skating because then I can thank my family for everything they have done for me,” says Yadira.

Refugees. Ordinary people living through extraordinary times. Share their stories. 

The conflict in Colombia has uprooted more than five million people. Almost 200,000 Colombians like Yadira have found refuge in neighbouring countries. UNHCR aims to ensure that every person seeking asylum has access to effective and fair government-managed asylum procedures. UNHCR helps governments by expanding their outreach capacity and increasing the effectiveness of national registration processes.

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