As with all violent, political upheavals, a few extremists reign terror on the poor and government forces push back, all too often with equally as brutal force. Caught in the crossfire are the innocent who attempt, as best they can, to go about their business without taking sides.
Helena Gonzalez Chinquillo, is one such victim. We visited her in the offices of the Defensoria del Pueblo (Public Ombudsman) in Huanta, located in the Andes, where she was providing testimony for reparations by the Government of Peru. To describe her story as heart breaking would be a crude injustice to what she has suffered, and miraculously endures every day.
This photograph is a reflection on several levels. The photograph hanging on the wall is of another woman identifying the corpse of a family member, during the conflict, and Helena is in turn giving voice to countless other survivors, such as herself, who were forced to face the horror of mass slaughters by both Guerrilleros with El Sendero Luminoso and by Government Forces.
Despite her unimaginable ordeal, Helena was able to remain hopeful and from her losses forge a future which has triumphed, by sending her two surviving children to Post-Secondary educational institutes.