This is Part 5 of a 5-part series of stories told from the perspective of refugee children. The stories are based off the lives of actual refugee children, but names and some details have been changed for privacy. The mission of Abba’s House is to welcome children like these into our care. Scripture quotations are NIV.
At age 17, I was tired of living under the constant threat of gang violence. I lived in Honduras, with one of the highest murder rates in the world. My classmates and friends were getting killed, and I did not want to go next.
So I begged my parents to allow me to go live with my uncle in Texas. They refused. We’d heard too many reports of Central American children being separated from family at the border; they did not want to be intentionally separated from me. But I was desperate. I begged, and after 2 weeks, they tearfully agreed to let me attempt the precarious journey alone, knowing I would be placing myself at the mercy of strangers and the U.S. government.
We carefully plotted my route: I would catch a bus through Guatemala to the Mexican border, and from there, ride freight trains to the U.S. border. I would immediately seek asylum from the border officials and be reunited with my uncle. Once settled I would try to find a way to bring my parents across.
I chose to ride “La Bestia” (“beast” in Spanish), also known as “trains of death.” La Bestia is what we call the freight trains running north-south through Mexico. The Mexican officials let migrants ride on top of the trains at no cost, although by riding La Bestia we risk injury and death.
Riding La Bestia was one of the craziest adventures in my life. At the U.S. border I applied for asylum, expecting to go directly to my uncle’s house, but they ended up taking me to a detention center instead. Every day I wait for my uncle to come down and get me. In the meantime, I’m grateful there are lawyers and church teams volunteering their time to help me and other minors.
Facts about Central American minors:
- The Trump administration ended the Central American Minors Program (CAM), designed to provide certain protections to minors with parents living lawfully in the U.S.
- Many minors have died trying to reach the U.S. border.
- Journeys on La Bestia can take weeks, if not months.
At Abba’s House, we want our refugee newcomers to know that they are precious to God: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139: 13-14