Every year thousands and thousands of men, women and unaccompanied children flee their home countries looking for a better opportunity of life. These people don’t leave their homes and land because they want to become richer, nor they do it because they suffer persecution, discrimination. But the main reason why these people leave for a better life opportunity is the extreme poverty that they face. America has always been the country of opportunities for all people from all over the world that is why this book is going to be focused on the people who immigrate trying to find the American dream. Based on the news and statistics the most frequent immigration comes from Latin America specifically Central America and Mexico. Most Central American people flee their home countries due that they are being persecuted for being indigenous, Gay or for being part of a group that doesn’t want to follow the government rules because they believe that the government is damaging them instead of protecting them. Mexican people also flee their country because of persecution from the drug cartels. They also flee based that they are discriminated and hurt in many ways due to their sexual orientation. Once again, of these people leave their country because they are in extreme poverty and they are the most vulnerable to persecution and harm because they don’t have the resources to help them fight against their oppressors. By resources I mean money or goods because as we it is well known, the authorities in Latin America are corrupt. I’m not saying it because I’ve heard it from people; I’m saying it because I experienced the lack of help from authorities because we don’t have the resources to pay them.

I was born in a small village North-West of Guatemala City in the department of Huehuetenango in the mid 90’s when the civil war had barely ended. According my mother, when I was born our village was burned down by the army because they assumed that all Mayans were part of the Guerilla. Thus, we had to flee and try to find a better opportunity of life. Soon after we moved to the city my parents started working long shift getting paid very little compared to very one else who did the same job they had to do. My dad mostly worked in landscaping and construction. My mother hand washed other people’s clothes as well as cleaning their houses. My parents had nine children of which I’m the eight. Having all these kids made it harder for my parents to work and take care of us at the same time. Because the struggle was getting to the point sometimes we didn’t have anything to eat for several days, my parents had to choose between us or work. For every parent, it is hard to leave their kids at home alone specially of they are under aged. It was a lot harder for my parents to leave us alone because we were homeless. Our house was a bunch of metal tubes tied with random pieces of rope that we picked up in the garbage. The roof and walls were made of pieces of cardboard and plastic bags. So, we were vulnerable to everything really. Due that we are Mayan specifically Quiche people discriminated us a lot because we couldn’t speak Spanish at all. Because my parents were working most of the time, we grew up without that parental figure that we could lean on when we needed something. Seeing how my parents had to work all the time and not being able to afford to rent a room for us, my older brother Moises took off and came to America. Sometime after he left, my other brother also decided that he had to immigrate looking for a better opportunity of life for himself and for us the younger ones. Both of my brothers were lost somewhere in Mexico and we didn’t know anything about them because we didn’t have phone or an address where we could receive mail.

My Brothers made it to America but they couldn’t find a job because they couldn’t communicate with anybody. They only spoke our native language Quiche. It took them two years until they got a stable employment. They started to send some money to help my parents provide for us, but that wasn’t enough. So, my sisters who are three all left the house and found themselves jobs that allowed them to provide for themselves. They did not contribute with my parents’ expenses, but at least they became independent. Despite all of this, my dad got tired of taking care of his own family, so he decided to take off and leave my mom with all the responsibility. Things got a lot tougher and my mom couldn’t work and take care of us properly, so she gave us always to random people who did not adopt us legally. When I was 6 years old I was given away to a lady who hated kids. She took me because she needed someone to clean her house. Feed her dog and wash her cloths. I lived 2 years with that lady as a slave. Sometimes when I didn’t do my chores the way she wanted she would feed me for 3 days. I had to resists all the discrimination, insults, physical, psychological, and emotional damage from this lady because I had no choice. I never got to go see my family in two years. But at the end I came up with a plan and managed to escape for good. After escaping, I had to hid inside my house for several months because the lady harassed me all the time. Sometimes she stayed outside of my house for hours waiting for me to come out so she could beat me up for leaving without her permission. As time elapsed until the lady gave a up and stopped harassing me. When I thought, it was okay for me to go out and leave like every other child. The lady came back with the police and accused me of being a thief. She accused me of takin money from her wallet and giving it to my parents. Of course, the police believed her because I didn’t speak Spanish fluently. Because of this, the police forced me to go back with her and work to pay the money that I didn’t steal. And again, I managed to escape and leave to a place far away from Huehuetenango. I left Huehuetenango without telling my parents. I went to live with my grandfather for a few months. But things were though there too because even though I wasn’t being anybody’s slave. I got discriminated a lot for being Mayan and for being poor. So, I decided to leave Guatemala to find myself a better opportunity of life. I thought that if I had a better opportunity of life; I could provide my family something better than what we had at that time. Thus, I left Guatemala without telling anybody. My parents thought I was kidnapped or killed because they looked for me for years and they never found me.

When I left Guatemala, my plan was to come to America but I think life hated me or something because instead of coming up North, I went down to South America. Since I didn’t speak much Spanish I didn’t ask people where I was. I just kind of went where my instinct told me. Well, my instinct took me all the way to a country called Chile. By the time I got to Chile my Spanish was good already. I mean it wasn’t perfect but I could have a basic conversation. It was a Monday morning when I arrived to Santiago, Chile. A lady asked me if I knew where the was the bus terminal? I told he that I didn’t know because I wasn’t from there. I told her that I didn’t know where I was. All I knew was that I had been traveling for several months. The lady’s mane was Margarita Guevara. Margarita bought me lunch that day and she explained me I was in South America. She told me that Guatemala was far away from Chile and that she was going to help me go back home. As soon as she started saying that I cried and told her why I had left. We talked for hours and hours and when it started to get dark, Margarita asked me if I had a place to stay? I told her that I was going to sleep on a park bench or somewhere I could find a spot like I had been doing for the past months. Then, Margarita left because she had to take a bus to get home. She lived like 30 minutes away. Anyways, I looked for a park for hours. Since I didn’t find one I started to sleep on the of the streets using nothing but paper as blankets to protect me from the cold and the rain. I did this for about three months until I ran in to Margarita again when I was asking for change or food. She recognized me and asked me why I was still there. I told her that I didn’t want to go home. She saw how bad I looked and she offered me to go with her to her house where she could give me food and a place to sleep for a few months until I found a job or a place to live. So, I moved in with her. Margarita took care of me for a few months, then she told me that she had to leave Chile because she owed people some money and that she couldn’t find a job. She told me that she was going to a place across the water puddle. I thought it was a lake but she was talking about the ocean. She was talking about Europe. She said that she was sorry and that I had to find a way to survive by myself. Margarita had been very generous with me and I felt like I needed to do something to help her out. Si I offered to go with and that I was going to help her pay her debt as soon as I could find a job. She said that she didn’t have enough money to pay for my ticket. I told her that I had always sneaked into busses and cars and that I was going to try to sneak into the ship. She said it was too much risk and that she didn’t want me to get hurt or sent back to my country. Despite what Margarita thought I managed to get into the ship without anyone seeing me. So, I waited until the ship stated to move before I got from where I was hiding. I started looking for Margarita. When I found, her she told me that I had to pretend I didn’t know her because if they asked about my ticket both of us could get thrown out of the ship. I follow Margarita’s orders because I didn’t want either of us to get thrown out. We were in the ship for about four weeks until we got to Portugal. We landed in Portugal where Margarita found a job right away because she knew someone who hooked her up with the employment. I on the other had asked for change in the streets to help Margarita pay for the food and the rent. A few months after we had arrived to Portugal, Margarita started dating this guy who convinced her to move in with him. When she moved in with her boyfriend I had to go back to sleep wherever I could find a spot in the street because I couldn’t afford to pay the rent. Plus, being realistic, nobody would hire an eight year old boy who doesn’t know how to do anything other than ask for change. I mostly slept in parks and ate whatever I could find in the garbage or what people gave me. With the change that I had saved for months. I bout myself some blankets because Lisbon gets cold during the winter. As time elapsed I started to learn Portuguese and I could find a job in a grocery store. I cleaned and organized the store every day. Even though I was working every day, the money wasn’t enough to pay for a place of my own. It was barely enough for food. Luckily, I became friends with one of the guys who delivered al the products at the store. He told me that he was from a place called Spain. His name was Gonzalo. Gonzalo said that he was moving back home and that he could help me get a job and a place to live if I went with him to Spain.

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Comments (2)

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  • Abednego Juarez
    Abednego Juarez about 2 years ago

    Hello Sylvia, Thank you so much for reading my story! It is my first time writing about my life and since English isn't my first language, I was expecting more than five mistakes. If you could please tell me what and where the mistakes are, I would really appreciate it. Once again, thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  • SG
    Sylvia Gates about 2 years ago

    Interesting story. It compelled me to want to know what happened next. I kept reading. I did see about 5 mistakes.