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April 20, 2022

Responding To: Innovating Protection for Children Along the Migratory Route and at the U.S.-Mexico Border

In Their Own Words: The Journey

Identity, Theatre for Change

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The stories in this audio clip were shared by migrant and asylum-seeking youth who recently arrived in Montgomery County, Maryland. Their stories are narrated here by voice actors to protect their identity.

The young people are involved with Identity, a local, community-based organization that works with thousands of Latino and other underserved young people and their families living in high poverty neighborhoods across Montgomery County after school, in the community, and on playing fields to improve their social-emotional wellbeing, achieve academic success, and prepare for work.

The voice actors work with Imagination Stage’s Theatre for Change program, which uses theatre productions and educational workshops to bridge cultural divides and lift up underrepresented voices.

Theatre for Change explores complex social justice issues to help build a new generation of compassionate, collaborative children who are capable of changing the world.

Identity is a local, community-based organization that works with thousands of Latino and other underserved young people and their families living in high-poverty neighborhoods across Montgomery County.

Julio: Solo Dios can help you out there. You don’t want your friends and family with you porque esta muy feo. You don’t want to have to worry about the ones you love. When the coyote comes its 8 am...Saturday. Me lleva en su carro a Guatemala. Then I go through Mexico and a river. Then through canals and mountains. Another car picks me up. There are more people now. Seven. Four adults. Three younger ones: twelve, eight and me. Yo estoy a cargo de los pequeños. For two and a half days we hid in a junk yard or car garage. A bus picks us up. We go on for sixteen hours with no food. No water. (Beat) No sleep. The police in Mexico stop us. They take our money. Si no les damos quinientos pesos dicen que nos van a regresar a El Salvador. We go from house to house. The last house is in Monterrey before we come to Los Estados Unidos. The coyotes told me to walk with the two younger ones to the river. We cross and the coyotes leave us alone. It’s 1 am. Caminamos. There’s cactus and bushes. Not much else. We get lost. Border patrol finds us. (Beat) Al fin.

Alfredo: It takes twenty-five days. No, maybe twenty. (Beat) Maybe a month. Se me olvida. I was with my prima who also had a primo with her who also had a primo with him. We all cross together. We travel a long time by foot and bus. A veces caminamos toda la noche. There’s not much food. Many days there’s no water. We stay at many places. We were at a bodega in Mexico for three days y nadie nos dio comida. We walk for two hours before we know where to cross at the river. Eight people per raft. Sixty people cross together. Lots of children. El coyote nos da un codigo. We give the code to the next coyote and then to the next. Then we walk alone.

Roxana: They pick us up at my home. Mi amigo y yo. They take us to a house somewhere, I don’t know exactly, to sleep and eat. Next is a bodega. Over four hundred people there. Then we move. Sometimes we take cars. Sometimes we walk. Five days y estamos en Mexico. Mas bodegas. More walking. We walk in the desert for two days. We come to the wall. We climb the wall. Corremos. We run for eight hours in Tejas. We get to our spot. Go to a hotel. Then a house. El coyote nos lleva a Dallas. He leaves us on the street. Says he didn’t get paid to guide us in the states. Se lleva nuestras cosas. Everything. Even cell phones. But, mi amigo hides his cellphone from the coyote. We call and find someone to guide us to Washington, DC. Venimos aqui en carro. My friends leave then. To New York and other cities, but I stay here.

Other Responses

Paulina Olvera Cañez
Espacio Migrante

Paulina Olvera Cañez, Founder and Director, Espacio Migrante | April 20, 2022