A picture taken of MY, a Honduran migrant, as she worked on handcrafting her jewelry. As a artisan, she hopes to one day own her own jewelry shop, and perhaps, even a restaurant.

A used-clothing shop owner, an owner of a carpentry business, a cook and self-taught jeweler, a pharmacy owner, and an aspiring cook who wants to open her own restaurant…

These were the achievements of some of the migrants that we had an opportunity to speak to. As we asked them about their passions and what they want for the future, the stories of their successes and aspirations became intertwined. We started to learn more and more about their careers and accomplishments that were proud of. Many wanted to open their own businesses once safety and stability for their families were ensured.

We wanted to emphasize on their achievements and successes, as well as aspirations for the future, as they are rarely discussed in the media or the public. Instead, many migrants are generalized into groups of individuals that are victimized for their tragedies and misfortunes. However, as we became acquainted with these migrants and heard about their dreams, we were inspired to write about the accomplishments that they were proud of. 

“Bueno, [en] mi pais tenia un pequeno negocio de ropa usada y tu sabes que los países como de nosotros le comienzan a extorsionar con los impuestos de guerra, uno tiene que pagar una tarifa semanal y si tu no tienes esa tarifa semanal pues te dan el tiro de gracia, un disparo en la frente.” -G, 35, Honduran

“Well, in my home country I had a small business of used clothing and you know how in our countries they begin to extort with taxes of war, and one has to pay weekly and if you don’t pay then you get shot in the front of your head.”

G is currently waiting in Mexico for asylum in the United States. She currently reside at a migrant shelter and expressed that there is a lack of work and employment for migrants, but prior to her travelling to Mexico, she used to own a used-clothing store. It was one of her proudest accomplishments, because not only did it allow her to provide income for her family, but it also gave her a sense of fulfillment. Although she had to close the store due to the threats that she received as a business-owner, her shop was quite successful.

A side-by-side comparison of MR’s woodworks. Use the slider to either swipe left or right to see the full pictures of MR’s carpentry crafts.

“Si, si. En mi carpintería me ayudaba a cortar madera. Mi esposa me ayudaba a tejer alguna sillas que tenia un tejido ahi de manila. De hecho tengo un video donde mi mamá está cortando madera.” -MR, middle aged, Salvadoran

In my carpentry shop, she [his mother] would help me cut the wood. My wife would help weave chairs that had the manila fabric there [the picture on the left]. I actually have a video where my mom is chopping wood. “

Before MR came to Mexico, he was a self-taught carpenter and owned a carpentry shop/ business. He began working in this industry due to his fascination in the craft, and as he watched tutorials on Youtube, he began to test out his abilities by making his own furniture. Eventually, MR built a repertoire for himself and became a well-known carpenter in his area. MR recalled one of the favorite pieces that he ever created was a stand made out of his customer’s orange tree (not pictured). The client was an elderly woman who thought of her orange tree dearly, but unfortunately, the tree’s health was slowly deteriorating and she could not revive it. She asked MR to craft a keepsake out of the orange tree for her, and after MR presented her with a personalized token, the elderly client started to cry because the memento meant so much to her. MR had a successful, steady business as an carpenter, and he was very much proud of his work and many praised him for the details as everything was handmade by him and his family. 

“Pues el sueño que a mi me gustaria cumplir, una es, entrar a los Estados Unidos. Y trabajar. Hacer lo que estaba acostumbrada de hacer en Honduras. Me encanta cocinar, a parte de la joyería, es mi pasión cocinar. Entonces sí me gustaría poner un pequeño restaurante. No estaría mal un restaurante. Bonito, donde la gente se pueda sentir feliz cuando se coma mi comida.” -MY, 28, Honduran

“Well, the dream that I would like to fulfill, one is, to enter the United States. And work. Do what I was used to doing in Honduras. I love cooking, apart from jewelry, it is my passion to cook. So yes, I would like to open a little restaurant. A restaurant would not be bad. Nice, where people can feel happy when they eat my food.”

MY is currently seeking asylum in the United States, and hopes that one day, they would allow her asylum. If she is able to make it to the U.S., one of her goals is to open her own restaurant because she loves cooking as well as making jewelry. She hopes she can accomplish this dream one day, so she tries her best to stay patient and maintain hope even if it can get difficult mentally.

A painting by J, a Cameroonian mother and migrant, in preparation for an upcoming protest and march for women’s rights.

I had some money, I buy orange and I begin to sell the orange. I pay for my school at night, every night I am going to school. In the morning, I sell orange again. I finish college, and after college, I make my own pharmacy.” -J, middle aged, Cameroonian

Before J came to Mexico as a migrant, she worked as a pharmacist in Cameroon. She provided us context of how her family struggled financially due to lack of financial support; however, that pushed her to think about pursuing an education. Even then, she had to find ways to support her education, thus leading to her selling oranges as a source of income. Eventually, she finished her education and was able to open up her own pharmacy because she enjoyed helping people.

A side-by-side picture of W cooking and a delicious pupusa. Use the slider to swipe right or left to see the full pictures.

“Y pues mi meta es sacar a mi hija adelante, mis papas tambien. Ayudarles. Ayudarle a mi otra hija. Tener una casa propia aca. Tener trabajo, si es posible poner un negocio propio.” -W, 29, Salvadoran

“Well my goal is to support my daughter and my parents. To help them. Help my other daughter. Have my own house. Have a job, if possible, my own business.”

W’s goal is to be able to support her parents and two daughters. While she is presently together with her one of her daughter, she has been separated from her second daughter and parents. At the moment, W is in Mexico while her family members are in Costa Rice. W works at a pupusería as the cook, and is currently working to earn enough money to bring the rest of her family north to Tijuana with her. Her future goals are to be able to start her own business and have a stable home for her and her family.