Photography by Belinda Mason

“The first shot hit my friend who fell to the ground and I thought she’s been killed and I was in shock about that. My first thought was to help my friend but then the guy was right in front of me pointing the gun right at me. I looked at him wanting to communicate that don’t do it, don’t do it. I have never in my life seen a gun or anything like that but then he pulled the trigger and shot me. Three bullets hit me. When I was first shot and everybody was surrounding me, I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel any blood but when they lifted me up, there was a huge pool of blood underneath me. When I went to the hospital, I lost my kidney and I had a spinal cord injury which they said was partial but it’s very severe. I am suffering from a lot of depression and I feel like this is the age that I should have been going out, going to the beach, going out with friends and the people who have said to me ‘Oh don’t worry, you can do a lot of things in a wheelchair’, and I am like well you’ve had your youth. I feel like I am missing all of the things I should have been doing at this stage of my life because of the things that happened to me so I am really struggling with depression. Although, I know it’s possible to do lots of things even though I am in a wheelchair and people have said to me but I myself find it so difficult to overcome that and I still see that guy like a metre away so it’s really difficult for me to get past.

I am very grateful to my mother. I went back to the place where I used to sell the encyclopaedias and talked to the boss. I have actually started to sell some books again which helps me to earn a bit of money. I want to pay my mother back for all the support she has given me because parents look after you when you are young but then at some point you are supposed to look after yourself and I want to be able to do that. I want to be able to go back to University and become an engineer and part of doing industrial engineering in Guatemala is you have to be able to manage the mandarin because all the machinery comes from china and learning to speak mandarin so, I want to do that.”

 –  Ruth, Guatemala 2017