Rebirth after Gang Life
Cristian Aceituno was in a gang for more than four years until an accident changed his life.
Life in a wheelchair, a bullet inside his body, and a few tattoos, are marks that are left on him from his life in the gang.
He joined the gang at the age of 15 in search of “Happiness,” but he says he found the opposite. “I wanted to be like them, I liked how they dressed and how much fun they had, but when I entered I realized it was nothing like I had thought.
He wanted to have power and respect, instilling fear, but actually he was afraid and no longer lived in peace. “It’s horrible, you can not lean out to anyone for help, including the police.”
Drugs and robberies are some of the things that you see happening within these groups. With a blank stare, Cristian recalls that after assaulting people, they sold their things and split the money, but when it was finished he was left only in tears. “I felt that I had a very ugly fault.”
That weakness he could not show in front of his friends, otherwise his life also would be in danger.
Lesson of Life
Four years of being in the gang, Cristian received a lesson. The narrow streets of La Limonada, that before he was walking or running through, he would now be doing so through a wheelchair.
“I was shot in a bus. We were robbing people and I was in a group of three friends, one died in that moment and two others were wounded. One of the survivors did not learn the lesson and died later. “I am now like you see me now, in a wheelchair.”
The loud sound of gunshots inside of a bus and the cold feeling of the bullet that pierced his back made Cristian remember God and to ask him for forgiveness at that time.
Lying on the floor and choking on his own blood, he called for help from the same people who from moments before he had been robbing of their belongings. “I just heard the people say ‘Let that thief die’ and rightly so” he emphasized.
The bullet pierced through his spine and stopped between his rib and his lung; Cristian has now been paralyzed and and in a wheelchair for seven years.
A Second Opportunity
After living on the streets and having an accident that almost cost him his life, Cristian, 26 years old, has learned a lot. Like how he values his family because after what happened to him that are the only ones that were there for him. “I try to live thanking God for the opportunity he gave me to be alive, because not a lot of people have that type of luck.”
Knowing he needed to help Cristian, the older of four brothers, his father, Otto Aceituno, 45 years old, has learned to make shoes and is the founder of the shoe store in La Limonada, which distributes their merchandise throughout Guatemala and to the United States.
Furthermore, he offers jobs to children and youth living in La Limonada who want to change their life and have a better future. Now the father and son fight to get ahead and work together in the family business.
Once a week, Cristian and his family give motivational talks at their home for people that want to get off the streets. Also, for those who are coming to work for the first time at the shoe store.