New Relationship, New Perspective
Laura Gilman visited El Salvador with the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton delegation in July 2014 and wrote a reflection to share about her moving experience.
I want to share a story with you of how my immersion trip to El Salvador has changed me.
Several weeks before we left on our trip in early July, my Mother kept calling me telling me stories of the immigrant children arriving at the border in Arizona where she lived. They had nothing with them and were sick and there was a fear of diseases spreading. I thought, “How could a mother do this? How could she let her child travel all alone thru Central America and Mexico and the danger they faced on this journey?” Then I met a mother. She is a mother in Rutillio Grande, our sistering community in El Salvador. She told us her story of her son. He is 17 years old and was a recipient of a scholarship from Seton to go to school and was a good student. But he was afraid of the gangs and the violence. He faced them on his way to school and was at the age that gangs were recruiting new members. He was afraid for his life and asked to go to the U.S. and be with his father. She finally agreed and got a loan at 20% interest and paid close to $7000 to a coyote guide who took him through Central America and Mexico and dropped him off at the border to cross on his own. It took him almost 14 days to get to the US border with little food or water. It was December when he arrived to the border and it was a time when there were freezing rains and ice storms in Texas. He was freezing cold and wet when he crossed the Rio Grande. He had hypothermia and literally thought he was going to die from the cold so he turned himself in to immigration. They took him in and helped him. They were able to reunite him with his father in Atlanta. He has been allowed to stay in the US as long as he stays in school and gets good grades.