G, a 35-year-old Honduran woman and mother of a young daughter,
had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave her hometown when the pressing issue of violence and extortion intensified as her clothing-shop was forced to pay for ‘war taxes’. G, along with her daughter, crossed from Honduras to Venezuela, Guatemala, then to Mexico. Along the way, she was forced to make difficult travels through Cancun, Monterrey, rode the bus to Reynosa, then the Rio Bravo to Texas. Her journey was anything but easy and short-lived as the hopes of a better future, and the lack thereof, motivated her to bring her family to safety up north. G, of course, was not the only migrant we had the chance to speak to that emphasized on the fact that family was and is the most important aspect in her life.
Many of the migrants we had spoken to were mothers, fathers, and even grandmothers that braved through their fears in hopes of attaining a better future for their families and children. Through the stories of their love and aspirations for their children, we were given the opportunity to glimpse into the reason why they decided to migrate and leave their home countries.
“Porque como puedes observar soy humano, siento, miro, me duelo lo que hacen pero tras de todo esto observo a mi hija. NO puedo llorar en frente de mi hija anuque soy la madre mas feliz del mundo y tanto la felicidad de mi hija. Eso me hace hacer fuerte y le doy gracias a dios por la oportunidad de ser una madre porque cuando yo la veo a ella, mientras tu estes bien mama esta bien. Ahora si veo que mi hija esta mal, mama esta mal. Entonces no le puede transmitir lo que esta sucediendo, por ejemplo mi papa murio estando aqui en Tijuana. Y puse yo a alocarme, gritar como una loca. SI yo grito como una loca enotnces puedo afectar a mi hija. Entonces soy la mama mas fuerte del mundo y que mama sonrie, y que mama hace chistes, y que mama es la loca que esta en el albergue arriba pero el resto esta por dentro. Y creo que platicando se sale unas cositas ahi entonces te hace que los ojos lloren aunque no quieran llorar pero te toco.” -G, 35, Honduran [see translation below]
This picture was taken at a nearby shelter where G and her daughter resided. The two teddy bears that her daughter is holding are her two favorite stuffed animals that she could not go a night without.
“Like you can observe, I am human, I feel, I see, I hurt in what they do but behind everything I observe my daughter. I CANNOT cry in front of my daughter even though I am the happiest mother in the world and for my daughter’s happiness. That makes me strong and I thank God for the opportunity of being a mother, because when I see her, if my daughter is okay I am okay. But if I see that my daughter is sad, then I am sad. Then I can’t transmit what is happening, for example my dad died here in Tijuana. And I became crazy, screaming like crazy. IF I scream like crazy, then I can affect my daughter. So then I have to be the strongest mother in the world. And that mama smiles, and that mama makes jokes, and that mama is the crazy woman that is in shelter on the outside, but the rest of it has to be on the inside. And I think that talking some of my emotions can come out, and so it makes your eyes water even though you don’t want to cry, but you have to.”
As a mother, MY is constantly worried about her daughters’ safety, even while being at a shelter.
She is still afraid of going out, but she finds comfort in the fact that inside that space, her family is able to feel welcomed and safe.
Her daughters are her biggest inspiration, and everything she does is for them.
V, MY’s youngest daughter, reaching up above her head to give Emely, and later her mother, a high-five. She then proceeded to play with her figurine toy.
“La verdad es que una de las razones por las que estamos aquí son ellas. Yo, para mis hijas, quiero hacer todo. Yo quiero que mis hijas sean muy felices. En mi país ellas, no se como decir, tenia amenaza de muerte entonces si nosotros no nos saliamos pues mis hijas vieran fallecido. Y una de las razones porqué estamos aquí porque quiero proteger a mis hijas. Pero al abrazarlas, a verlas sonreír, al verlas que están bien eso me hace muy feliz. No importa que sienta yo, no importa que viva yo pero si mis hijas estan feliz, soy feliz yo.” -MR, middle aged, Salvadoran“The truth is that one of the reasons for why we are here is them [my daughters]. I, for my daughters, want to do everything. I want my daughters to be very happy. In my country they, I don’t know how to say it, had a death threat so if we did not [get out/leave] then my daughters would have died. And one of the reasons why we are here is because I want to protect my daughters. But to hug them, to see them smile, to see them doing well that is what makes me happy. It doesn’t matter how I feel, it doesn’t matter what I live through but if my daughters are happy, I am happy.”
A list of quotes compiled from various conversations with MR and his wife about their family, relationship, and aspirations.
“Entonces todo lo que hago es para mis hijas, para mi familia, mi mama, mi esposa, pero el centro de todas las actividades y de todo lo que yo hago es mis hijas. Para mi mis hijas es lo más importante. Eso es lo que me hace feliz… El futuro que yo quiero para mis hijas es que esten seguras, mucha seguridad para ellas, que ellas sean profecionales, que ellas puedan formarse como un profecional en la carrera que ellas desean.. No las voy a obligar a hacer algo que ellas no quieran hacer. Ellas son libres de elegir la carrera en que ellas quieran formarse. Yo quiero en mis hijas que tengan una vida muy feliz y llena de seguridad. Y claro que en la vida siempre va haber altos y bajos. Siempre van a haber momentos de dificultad pero ellas tienen que aprender a superar cada obstaculo que se le presente. Pero eso es lo que busco para mis hijas. Que mis hijas tenga un futuro muy bueno. Seguridad y felicidad. Eso es lo que yo quiero y eso es lo que espero tener.” -MR“So everything I do is for my daughters, for my family, my mother, my wife, but the center of all the activities and everything I do is my daughters. For me my daughters is the most important thing. That is what makes me happy… The future that I want for my daughters is for them to be safe, for them to have a lot of security, that they are professionals, that they can train as professionals in the career they want. I am not going to force them to do something that they do not want to do. They are free to choose the career in which they want to train in. I want my daughters to have a very happy and safe life. And of course there will always be ups and downs in life. There will always be moments of difficulty but they have to learn to overcome every obstacle that comes their way. But that is what I am looking for for my daughters. That my daughters have a very good future. Security and happiness. That is what I want and that is what I hope to have.
The two side-by-side pictures were taken as we sat down and had a conversation about their family. We never really had a chance to speak with MR’s wife before as she was quite shy; however, it was very obvious how supportive and caring their relationship were. MR and his wife told us that they are a very romantic couple, and always tried their best to express their love for each other, especially through difficult times. The picture on the right is the song that best represent their relationship, which they dubbed as their song.
“Yo creo que si nos llegamos a separar, estaríamos débiles. Yo creo que la fortaleza de nuestra familia ha sido la unión. Siempre hemos estado juntos. Desde el inicio fue así.” -MR and his wife, middle aged, Salvadoran“I believe that if we were to separate, we would be weak. I believe that the fortress of
our family has been the union. We have always been together. It was like that from the beginning. ”
“My God is not a special God, my God is you, you, you. That is my God. I don’t like so many people be, “Oh… God, God” [as in praising God]. No, God is you. Trust him, love him, love your sister, love your brother, love dirty woman, love dirty man, love dirty children. You have 2 shoes, somebody don’t have shoes, take one shoes and give him. You have food, somebody hungry, take your food and share. That is love, that love is Jesus. There is God. Somebody ask you, “What is God?”. Answer “God is love.” I don’t know God, I don’t know him. But I know you in God, and God in you.” -J, middle aged, Cameroonian
J left Cameroon in order to find economic stability and an income to send to her children back in her home country. She showed us pictures of her sons and daughters, and expressed how tremendously proud she was of them. J also mentioned that while she was on her journey to Mexico, the one thing that she always kept with her was her Bible. It helped her overcome her struggles and mental conflicts– even providing her with a sort of distraction. Reading the Bible reminded her of her family, and that allowed her to momentarily step away from the harsh reality. Her outlook of life is full of optimism even through the most difficult situations, but that has allowed her to live without any hatred. It provided her a state of calmness and acceptance.