Thursday, June 19, 2014

He Would Be A Hero

"I have spoken with many Guatemalan men and women about them coming to the USA to find work. All of them have been in a desperate situation. I have told them all it's not a good idea to go illegally to the States. It's dangerous and more than not they won't be able to find jobs.Yet this is hard for them to believe. They all know someone who made it to the U.S., found work and is now sending money to their families. One day in February I sat in a dirt floor adobe hut precariously placed on a Guatemalan mountain side. Manuel sat with his 2 year old son on his lap and his wife by his side. He was explaining to me he desperately needed to leave for the States. He didn't want to leave his family but they were hungry and he need to do something. A family living 100 yards down the road from them were receiving money from the their son in the States. They now had food, better clothing and a better house to live in than before. Manuel could not believe he may not have the same luck as his neighbor. Manuel believes he would be one of the people that made it here and found work. Then he would be able to support his family. He'd be a hero. He didn't consider what would happen if he was sent back home. None of them do."

The words above are taken from an email sent by a Finding Freedom friend who is expressing his thoughts about the past and the recent human tide from Central America who are crossing the border illegally. 
These concerns are not just words and feelings for us, they represent people in Guatemala who we are working with daily.  Two of the women in our program have lost, respectively, a husband and a son who died while trying to cross the border to  find work in the states. One FFF mother recently had her son return to Guatemala after he served a six month jail term for crossing into the U.S.. He now owes the coyote $5,000 that he can't repay. He supports his wheelchair dependent mother and his four siblings and he hasn't found work since he returned.
Reality is just about as authentic as it can get when FFF volunteers are in Guatemala sharing a day with a recent widow who sent her husband off to the land of opportunity, only to have him return in a coffin. 

Catarina became widowed after her husband died crossing border

Crossing the border is extraordinarily difficult, dangerous, expensive and terrifying. 
Living a life of extreme poverty is no less so. 

What would you do if you were in these shoes; when being a hero to your children simply means being able to house and feed them? 
The recent news events concerning the flood of children who are illegally crossing our borders looks very different depending on which side of the border you stand on; the side of desperation or the side of opportunity. The reasons for this current humanitarian crisis are political and economical, and very, very sad. Our board members are tired of watching the news of the new waves of arrests, looking for faces we may know.
Finding Freedom's role in this human drama is small, and seemingly insignificant against the crush of numbers. 
We simply want to feed, educate, employ and house the people in the mountains of Guatemala so they don't have to leave home to be a hero. 
It seems so easy. 
It is so damn hard. 
It involves long nights at the computer, long days writing grants and longer weeks balancing budgets, packing humanitarian supplies, documenting spreadsheets of information on our families, and working hard at our jobs so we can donate out of our own pockets to keep our program going. 
And if it keeps even one girl in school so she has earning potential, or one family fed, or a roof intact against the relentless rainy season, then it is all worth it. 

The family now walks 6 miles a day to earn money by washing laundry in a nearby village