by Patrice Coolick, CSJ
There was a young, 32-year-old mother from El Salvador who came in with three children. She was carrying her handicapped son and her 8-year-old boy son was holding the hand of the 4-year-old. Her husband had gone to the market and was killed in a crossfire. She knew that if she was killed her 8 and 4-year-old would be put on the street to beg and the handicapped child would be killed because he would have been considered useless. Her brother in New York said that he would help them if she could get herself to the border and get to the states.
She was beautiful inside and out and her tenderness with her children would bring tears to my eyes. I said to the 8-year-old “how lucky she was to have him help her” His response was “Well someone has to do it so I guess it’s me.” What a parent won’t do to save their children.
A 25-year-old man from Nicaragua came into the clinic to ask for meds for anxiety and because he couldn’t sleep. He began to cry for some time while explaining that he was being pressured to join a gang. He had a wife and an 8-month-old baby. He knew if he refused to join, he would be killed and possibly his wife and baby. They decided it would be better for him to leave and she would go with the baby to live with her parents. Their hope was he would make it to the States, find a job and eventually have her come with their child.
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.”