Rosanne Belpedio, CSJ is presently retired from full-time diocesan ministry in liturgical formation. She spends her time, writing, gardening, and participating in committee work for OCIA and immigration issues.
Wisdom from an eight-year-old
by Roseanne Belpedio, CSJ
Toward the end of the day, I was beginning to get a little tired. I had spoken at length to at least three women each of their stories were emotional, sad, and powerful. The last woman I spoke with told me that she was from El Salvador. The family had traveled over six months to get to Mexicali. They were among the recent arrivals to the shelter.
She said that they did not want to leave their home, but decided it was necessary to do so because it was dangerous in El Salvador. The violence was terrible, the political corruption was rampant, and they were afraid for their eight-year-old son. The cartels try to recruit young boys to train them to be soldiers.
They left their careers and their home and decided to come north to seek asylum, safety, and medical care for their son. He has a serious health issue and must wear dark glasses all the time. The doctors down there told them that they did not have the ability to help him.
During our conversation the woman called to her son, Stevie, to come and meet me. I asked him, what have you learned on this long and difficult journey from El Salvador to Mexico? He said to me that he learned that there is a lot of difference among people throughout the world, but they all have good intentions. That is good, he said because it is interesting to learn about the differences of each one and appreciate the good those differences offer. But he went on to say that the most important thing he learned is to respect everyone in their differences. It is very important to give respect and receive respect, he said. That is the most important thing.
As I reflected on my experience of the day, I could not forget eight-year-old Stevie and his words of wisdom. What a different world we would have if everyone tried to respect one another.
In line with our commitment to defend the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, our new blog series “Our Border Brothers and Sisters,” we present the stories that our sisters and associates who have had border experiences would like to share. We are grateful to them for their generosity. It is our hope that these stories will open us to seeing and understanding our brothers and sisters in greater depth because, as Colum McCann once said: “You can’t hate someone when you know their story.”