He is "the man who saved my life", says Ingrid Betancourt. Our special correspondents met with the man who cared for the Franco-Colombian hostage in the jungle.
William Perez was liberated at the same time as Ingrid Betancourt, after having been in the FARC’s hands for ten years. A nurse in training, he looked after Ingrid Betancourt when she was gravely ill.
"When (Perez) saw that I was not able to rise from my hammock and that I would not take a bath for want of strength, he came to see me, diagnosed me, cared for me, and restored me to life,” recalled Ingrid Betancourt on July 5, the day after her arrival in France.
Corporal Perez spoon-fed her, and talked to her about her children, a subject dear to her. Little by little, he restored her courage.
Whilst a hostage, Perez suffered as well. Betancourt did her part in reciprocating moral support, which he appreciated. He said, “Ingrid helped me during very difficult moments, such as when my father died.”
The nurse is, above all else, human – a man prepared to help others regardless of which side they are fighting for. He took care of his jailers – the FARC – when they fell ill. “When the guerillas fell ill, they came to see me and asked me to examine them,” he said. "I said yes. I examined them and took care of them till they were better.”
Now 33, Perez wants to continue serving others, beginning with those still in the jungle at the mercy of the guerillas. “I am ready. From day one, I said that if I can get back my arms and equipment to find my companions, I am ready. I am proud to be a soldier!”
Date created : 2008-07-10