The "Dear Madrina" Letters

The following letter is not real, but the facts are real. Several young people who have known me since they were little ones call me "Madrina" - it is a term of endearment which means "Godmother"

Dear Madrina,

I hope this letter finds you well, surrounded by your loved ones.

My situation in El Salvador has become desperate.  As you know, I still have not found work in my profession, despite the fact that I graduated from the university a year and a half ago.  In fact, no one in my graduating class has found work in our profession.  I am trying to survive, but I cannot afford even the smallest things like a few clothes or a notebook for my son.

You asked what kind of work I have been doing to support us.  I buy small things and resell them on the buses that run near the community.  Yes, I know it is dangerous to hop on and off of the buses.  Yes, I know it is dangerous to carry the little quarters I earn on the bus because the gang members also come on board looking for money.  I don't really earn enough to support us like this, but I can buy two fish and some tortillas.  We like to eat fried fish, and it is one thing I can cook really well.

I recently returned from Guatemala.  I went there because some relatives told me there was work.  I left my son with a cousin.  I did find work for 3 weeks working heavy construction.  Are you surprised by that?  Hahaha, sometimes women can get jobs working construction.  You know I am strong.

No, my son did not go to school during this time.  He does not like to go to school.  He is only in first grade, but the gangs already bother him on his way to school.  They call my cell phone and ask for him.  They tell me he needs to be at a certain place at a certain time or they will hurt our family.  Maybe they want him for a lookout.  I don't know if he has carried things for them.  I cannot protect him in the community or on the way to school so he does not want to go to school.

Sometimes we are alone in the house and cannot go anywhere or do anything or eat anything.  When times are difficult and we are alone, we pray and pray.  We read the Bible together.  My son can read the Bible.  He reads really well for his age.

The rain is coming and I am more afraid than ever.  The hillside under my house is washing away.  I am afraid the house will cave in and we will be buried.  We cannot stay in the community.  For so many reasons we are not safe there.  You know my father is an alcoholic.  The only choice is for me to come to the United States.  I want to work to earn money and buy a house in the countryside where we can grow food and it is safe.  That is my dream.  I saved money to hire a coyote.  My son will stay with my cousin.  I think I can work for 3 years and then have enough.

You told me that you do not want me to travel north because it is dangerous.  I know the dangers.  I am street-smart.  You told me that you do not want to have to travel to Guatemala to identify my body and buy my coffin.  I understand what you are saying, but I will not change my mind.  This is the only hope for me and my son.  I am leaving for the United States tomorrow.

You said you will pray for me.  When I am outside under the stars I will know you are praying.  God will be with me.  I will not tell anyone that I know you and I will not carry your name with me.  I don't want you to get in trouble or to receive threats.  I memorized your phone number in case I need to call you from a detention center.

You will not hear from me for a long time.  But God will keep us together.  Your love for me is the only thing that will keep me going, along with the love of God.

May God bless you,
Your Amiga

Dear Amiga,

The three weeks when I heard nothing from you were very difficult.  My heart ached every day with worry.  I am glad to learn that you are safely back in El Salvador with your son.  You were very fortunate to have met people along the way who could travel with you and keep you safe.  I am sorry you lost your money to the coyote.  It sounds like you learned a great deal about yourself during the journey north.  We will continue to pray for your situation and ask God to provide you with work.  We will try to make more connections with our friends in El Salvador and help you with your resume.  We know God has great plans for your life.

May God bless you,
Your Madrina


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