by Mykhail Waking up to song, rubbing my refreshed eyes, eating breakfast and pouring coffee was my way to mentally prepare myself for today’s journey. The past two days have been a great immersion experience culturally, emotionally and physically. It was today that my senses and mind were like broken records repeating the same thing, as if to tell me, “this is real”. A poem I wrote after this experience was: 4-1-2-1-4, 4-1-2-1-4 This pattern was meaningless before 4-1-2-1-4, 4-1-2-1-4 This was the height pattern of the borders bars Clink-clink-clink This was a meaningless sound before Clink-clink-clink This was the sound of rocks hitting the border from Mexican children at play. These repetitions were only from the first 5 minutes at the border. The seconds, minutes and hours to follow were processed similarly. Three women. Three stories. Three families separated. Three peoples lives changed forever.
Hearing each woman’s story was extremely touching and an experience that is indescribable, but I will try to do one of these stories justice.
Carla*, like most immigrants, was told of the promises and opportunities that the states provide—the “American Dream”. Carla was not so easily persuaded by this concept. Going across the border was not something she wanted or dreamt of, until her daughters life was at risk. As Carla adopts her 5 year old daughter, she soon acknowledges the needs of her daughter health. The need for a kidney transplant. This surgery was not an option for her daughter in Mexico, but in the states there was a policy allowing undocumented immigrants under 21 to have healthcare. This is why Carla took her daughter across the border. As Carla stated, “I didn’t come to the United States to get my papers, I came to save my daughter”. With her visa, Carla was able to bring her daughter to the U.S. and get her the transplant but this was not the end of her story. The next 20 years of her life living in the U.S. contained many hardships—involving 27 surgeries for her daughter, lack of medical insurance, homelessness, financial insecurity, and deportation of family members. Carla’s daughter passed away just hours after holding her in her arms as a 26 year old woman. Her numerous surgeries made it impossible to close her stomach wounds and soon after Carla’s* daughter passed away from a heart attack. Carla’s wish for us was to help any and all undocumented people seeking refuge or assistance because everyone’s story is different. They need help for their daughters, their husbands... for themselves. When you see this picture of the border, I want you not to think of the separation there is but the unity there can be. The hopes that one day everyone will be willing to help another family save their children, their friends, and their neighbors. This fence is no different than the fence that separates you from your neighbor outside your house, so why treat them differently? Carla ended with, “Wouldn’t you cross the ocean or the sea if in China your child or loved one could live?” I leave you with this question: What would you do to save your daughter or significant other, if you were in this situation? I would cross the border.