Thursday, July 24, 2014

He was Only Fifteen!

It happened seven years ago.  An occurrence that changed my way of seeing the kids who ride the trains to the border.  Personally, my path had never crossed a young kid far from home that I know of.

Always when pulling into a parking lot, there is a multitude of car cleaner and parking guys.  Usually a smile and "No gracias" is my standard reply when being asked if any of these services are needed.

Somehow, this day, the young man had an "aura" that caused me to look up and see his eyes.  Something there caught my heart and in a moment of hesitation I said, "Por favor, limpio mi coche"  Please clean my car.

When coming out from shopping the young man hurried to get the packages and stored everything in the car.
Then we agreed on a nominal price for the car cleaning.

Surprising even myself, I heard myself say "Donde esta su familia?" Where is your family? Immediately he answered "El Salvador".  Then the conversation continued with me asking how he had gotten to Celaya and he told me on the train.  It had taken him almost two months to get to Celaya, which is 45 minutes south of San Miguel.

He jumped off the train there so he could earn some money and get some food.  He didn't ask me for anything.  I asked where he was going.  He pulled a slip of paper out of his pocket that showed he was going to a town in Michigan.  When I asked why there, he said his dad works at a factory there.  If he could get there perhaps he could get a job as well.

My heart lurched at the distance this boy still had to travel.  All I could think of was my five teenage grandchildren in Houston out of harm's way with a bed and pillow along with the comforts of home and family to sustain them.

Without thinking, I started pulling food out of the bags that would keep unrefrigerated.  I made a "goody bag" as my youngest daughter used to call them.  Then I gave him some money, not much, but enough for a week or two.  As I handed it to him, there were tears in his eyes.

Again, without thinking, I grabbed him, (as I would my own grandchildren), gave him a Grammy hug and wished him good luck.  It was instinctive.  I hurriedly got in the car as I knew I would lose it and end up in tears as well.  It was the darnest thing.

It's been seven years.  Often I remember that 15 year old boy trying to act strong. He would be 22 now, the same age as my oldest granddaughter.   He is still present in my mind's eye.  With all my heart I hope he is with his father.  That he is safe,  has been able to send money home to his mother and brothers and sisters which was also his goal.

If only all the people and politicians who think the "illegals" are all the things they are not, could meet one person, such as this young man, hopefully they too would be compassionate in their realization of the fact they are  human beings who only want to get to safety and their families.

25 comments:

norm said...

I am pro immigration for no other reason than I favor people who vote with their feet, they are my kind of people.

La Tejedora said...

I had to stop reading in the middle because I couldn't see through my tears. Thanks, Barbara; very touching. xo

Babs said...

I agree with you Norm. Hardest working, most determined people I've ever known.

La Tejedora, just thinking of that boy, who is now a young man, still chokes me up, after all these years!
Thanks for your heartfelt comment.

Charles said...

This is the most beautiful post I have read since I have been reading the blogs...sin palabras mi hija...the positive energy explodes...I do so want to meet you in person sometime soon for a cafecito en la jardin...I'm just so tired of all the hate...give me your tired your poor indeed..abrazzos fuertes...

Babs said...

Gracias Charles. I would be honored to meet you in the jardin.
I'm usually there on Mondays and Fridays watching the people, the Mexican people. It's the joy of my life.
Send me a message to the email address below or look for me on the bench in front of the Parroquia around noon.

Retired Teacher said...

What a touching story. You have a heart of gold!

Once, when my friend was driving on one of our excursions outside of Mexico City, he pointed out a railroad crossing. He said it was a favorite place for Central Americans riding the rails to hop off and try to earn a bit of money for food.

Have you ever seen the movie "El Norte"? It was an indie movie probably made back in the 1980's. I used to show it in my Spanish classes every year. It tells the story of 2 teenagers, brother and sister, who escape the violence in Guatemala and make a harrowing journey to the north. If you can find a copy of it, I guarantee that you will be in tears by the end.

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

Hopefully your kindness sent him along in good spirits. I believe in open borders for young and willing people to come and work the jobs most north Americans feel are beneath them. The same thing happened in my native Holland when many Turkish guest workers came to work there in restaurants and as cleanup crews. Ultimately, in Holland the Dutch came to resent them when the economy failed and these "migrant workers" had taken all the jobs. Funny how things evolve...

Looking at how much north America spends on interfering with other countries, this cash could solve global hunger many times over. Such a waste.

Well, that's my rant, sorry...

angler said...

Such a kind and compassionate act. Really made my morning, thank you for sharing this heart stirring story. These children are mainly refugees from bleak and violent countries. I don't know of a solution, but wisdom and grace must be present when contemplating what must be done.

Cat Elena said...

Very touching story Babs. You have a heart of gold, and I am sure this young man has not and will never forget your kindness. I am with you and hope that he safely found his father.

Karen said...

Thanks for your story it was so touching and shows us the reasons these children are crossing our borders. I am so ashamed of my country and can not say enough against the political party that is so against anything our President is trying to do. Our political system is broken and there seems no hope on the horizon.

lauriec said...

Thank yiu so much for posting this and reminding us all to see the person (and the child) in the news story I too admire the journey and risk these children and families take for safety and opportunity - how can we not open our hearts and borders..

Laurie
Chapel Hill

Cate Poe said...

Hi, Babs

Glad you took time to write this at a time when so many have lost sight of what it means to be one of these kids. Well done!

Un Abrazo,
Cate

Steve Cotton said...

I have been thinking about the children of Central America for some time. Maybe I have found the project I have been looking for -- establishing micro-development projects in Central American countries -- to allow the talented and bright children who are leaving heir homes to have a country they feel safe in.

Babs said...

Bill - I haven't seen El Norte. I'll see if I can find it. I'm sure it would be informative and touching, to say the least.

Babs said...

Peter, rants are allowed and I so agree.
If the borders were open there would be a natural ebb and flow. If Europe could open its borders, why can't we?

Babs said...

Steve, great idea. There are many micro-lending and micro-development projects here in San Miguel that have brought great benefit but not many meaningful jobs.
Hopefully that will change over time. Mexico, in the near future, will not have workers seeking a life north of the border. This country is developing at a rapid rate.
Hopefully the Central American countries will get help from the Latin American alliance.

Kelly Marie said...

I had to read this twice. Choked me up. I am certain he will never forget you. It is always good to be a giving person.
Not just paying it forward, but simply helping those in need that do not ask for help.
May many fall in your footsteps.
Steve, wonderful idea.

Kelly Marie said...

I cannot figure out how to email you directly.
I would love to chat.
Re-read a years worth of posts.

Kelly
Teamopuertovallarta@gmail.com
Or
Sunnyinvallarta@yahoo.com

Babs said...

Thanks Kelly Marie, I"ll email you.

Babs said...

Angler, Cat Elena, Karen, Laurie C and Cate Poe:

Thanks for all your comments. This post wasn't about me but this dignified, hardworking, scared to death but not showing it, kid who just symbolizes each of those kids who have shown up at the border each and every year.....
In my humble opinion, if we took the 23 billion to "make the border more secure" which means employing more and more people and gave that money to verifiable charities or organizations in those countries to better those countries, 23 billion would go a heck of a long way! To put it mildly.

Christine said...

Someday borders may be entirely obsolete. Imagine!

Babs said...

Christine, I so hope so!

gringosuelto said...

Barbara,

What a touching post. You are indeed a wonderfully compassionate soul. I feel so badly for these poor kids who have faced so much adversity. And I'm sick of the politics surrounding it. That's one of the best parts of being in Mexico -- far from the din of all the stupidity coming out of Washington.

Saludos,

Kim G
Pátzcuaro, Michoacán

Babs said...

Kim, I couldn't agree with you more. How a humanitarian effort became politicized is disgusting. I try not to watch or hear that stuff. It's so disheartening and unnecessary.

Babs said...

PS. Kim, glad to see you are in one of my favorite towns in Mexico. It always lifts my spirit to be there. Hope you take time to visit many of the villages and the round pyramid. Lovely, lovely place.