Saturday, June 14, 2008

a few miles away

Last night a friend called with desperation in his voice. He lives in a rural area and he found a young, exhausted man sleeping on his property. The man was from El Salvador and had been wandering the mountains near the border all day long, without food or water. It was almost 100 degrees yesterday. The young man had been traveling for a long time and paid a coyote to cross him over. The group he was traveling with was caught by the migra and he had hidden in the bushes, hoping someone else would find him and help him across. No one did. He walked over the mountains alone all day until he came to my friend's land and decided to rest. My friend put the man on the phone for me to translate. The kid wasn't even twenty years old. He was from a small village in El Salvador. He told me he just wanted to go back, that it was too much for him. He asked me to call his mom and tell her that he wanted to come home. I called his mom for him. The poor woman must have been scared to death. Her baby alone trying to make across a quarter of the planet. Then a strange woman calling her in the middle of the night to tell her that her son had been abandoned by the men he paid to take care of him. I managed to get the number of a relative in Los Angeles. I called the relative who was also incredibly surprised and a bit wary to hear from me. I gave her my friend's phone number. I don't what else happened. They didn't call me back. I hope it worked out.

All of this pulls at the heart of me. This goes on every day minutes from where I sleep, eat, love, and roll around blindly in my privileged life. I see immigrants every day; they are the backbone of the construction industry. But I don't often think about the risk they take to come here, just for the opportunity to feed their families. I wonder if I would have the fortitude to leave everything I know and love; risk my life to go to a land where I don't know the language or culture; where I know I would be discriminated against for my lack of language. I can't even imagine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, stories like this break my heart also. It gets even worse- sometimes they owe a smuggler and can't go home for fear of something happening to the family back home.

It's an uglier world today for immigrants. More dangerous and less filled with hope. The laws have become more draconian.

I hope this kid turns out to have a happy ending to his story.

I'm glad that you and your friend did what you could to help him out.