Laura Daniela Quintero's Story

Your Impact: Daniela's Story

"The YMCA transformed my life."

(English translated)

I am Daniela, I am 17 years old and I live in Ciudad Bolivar with my mother and my brothers. In spite of the economic problems my family has had, my mother, as the head of the family, has always kept us very close. My father abandoned us when we were very young, as he had another relationship. This situation caused many emotional problems in my life, especially the lack of trust and security, feeling that nobody loved me and that I was rejected. For this reason I found pleasure in food, as a means of temporary satisfaction. At the age of 10,  I was suffering from morbid obesity and I locked myself in my own space, I had only one friend and I did not talk to anyone.

I began to experience bullying and cyberbullying, which affected me even more, and resulted in me falling into a deep depression. However, neither my family nor anyone else knew, as I did not want to give them any more trouble. This situation also affected my academic performance. My classmates would call me: pig, sow, and other rude things, which made me not like doing group projects in class. All I wanted to do was be alone and sleep, and not put myself out there to learn anything about the world.

Daniela and fellow Y participants
Daniela (middle) with other Y participants

My school counselor realized what was happening to me and could see how depressed I was, so sent me to the YMCA workshops. At first I didn't want to, because I didn't like to interact with anyone, but little by little, in the workshops I learned to know myself, to see all the talents I have, I started to participate in the dances to create dance routines and interact with others. Then I started to see myself in a different and more positive way, people also saw me and began treating me differently, they realized that I had the potential to be a leader, to guide and to help.

I began to lead workshops in crafts, for forgiveness and reconciliation. After that, with a colleague we started soccer groups in which we strengthen values, respect, and fair play and also promote healthy living habits. I have managed to lose weight, love and take care of my body, while supporting other young people. 

Thanks to the YMCA, I have transformed my life and now I want to help others transform theirs. For this reason, I want to study social work to help women find their power and live a happy life free from violence.