February 17, 2019

As Asylum Seeker's Quest to Be Reunited with Her Child

“Last October, Sindy, a twenty-three-year-old mother, woke up to a normal day in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She lived with her husband, Kevin, their seventeen-month-old daughter, Grethshell, and two elementary-school-aged children from Sindy’s previous relationship. That morning, she made breakfast for Kevin and saw him off to his job as a house painter. But, as Sindy washed the dishes, gangsters arrived at her home and threatened her life—a common occurrence in Tegucigalpa, the capital of a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Sindy called Kevin at work in a panic, and they decided that she should pack their things and leave home. “Come quick,” he told her. “We’ll figure out our next steps.” She stuffed her children’s backpacks full of clothes and grabbed Grethshell’s favorite toy: a doll that had been a birthday gift from Kevin. “I left behind my two little dogs, Whitey and Stuey,” Sindy told me. The hardest part, she said, was “to tell my kids they couldn’t go to school anymore, they couldn’t see their friends anymore, that everything in their lives was going to change.”

The couple decided to head for San Francisco, where Sindy has an uncle. They took a bus through Guatemala, then traversed Mexico by rail. In Puebla, as they prepared to board a gritty train known as La Bestia with other migrants, Mexican authorities surrounded the group, beating and chasing them. In the chaos, Kevin hopped on the train, clutching Grethshell to his chest, and thinking that Sindy had already boarded. In fact, Sindy remained on the ground with the two older children, looking for her husband and toddler. For days, she and the children wandered around Puebla, searching for signs of their whereabouts. Finally, she realized that they must have continued north and started after them. As she walked, she asked fellow-migrants, “Have you seen a man with a little girl named Grethshell?””

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