I thought I would take a stab at expounding a bit on the current caravan of thousands of mostly Hondurans walking to the US.
Depending on what news outlet you use, you will get some different views on the motivations behind the individuals making up this caravan.
Often mentioned is gang violence and the general poverty (some outlets report 60% poverty), which is true, and unfortunately, nothing new. This story is in the news cycle now because of the size of the group, but the number of people trying to leave difficult circumstances (in Honduras and in many other countries) to get to a promised land of opportunity has been going on long before I have been living in Honduras.
When you are from the USA living in Honduras, conversations in Honduras will at some point turn to life in the USA, quite often a person's experience with either living in the USA or trying to get there. When you are in the USA, it is very difficult to understand the risks for those that make this journey, not just from "close by" Central America, but from around the world...which also includes many walking through Honduras from South America or even Africa. The risks are huge and certainly real: death, dismemberment (riding La Bestia train and falling off), getting caught up in sex trafficking, rape, robbery, dehydration trying to cross deserts, and more, but not the least of which is getting caught and sent back.
But just facing those risks (as well as the financial cost to get there which is huge) gives you a tiny glimpse into the challenges of daily life for so many in Honduras.
Is there some co-opting of this situation for political reasons? Sure. What else is new? But to think that is the reason behind all this is short sighted.
One of the main sources of income for the country is money sent back from those living/working abroad. The word for that is remittance. I only know it because of how common it is there. If you can get to the USA, the likelihood that you will be able to work, be safe, and have enough money to send some back to support your family is the dream that most find. But it can be difficult because the pressure to provide and sacrifices an immigrant makes are often huge.
I chose the picture above (from a joint service in Cantarranas) because it shows a good representation of some Hondurans that have made the journey, and some of those that currently are, whether or not they are in that caravan. There are big issues here, but when you focus in, you see real people.
From a legality/moral point of view, I certainly do not have any answers to all of this. It is a complex situation, the roots of which I struggle to understand through the lens of history and the factors that have added up to get us to this point over a period of 50 or even 100 years. Big factors and a mountain of little ones, and not all the burden lies on Honduras or countries like it either.
Just this past month, someone that used to work for the mission made it to the border, went through the month long process of interviews and time in front of a judge there (they turned themselves in on purpose at the border), and is now living legally in the Northeast and immediately working 30 hours a week, awaiting more appointments before a judge in the next year.
Bottom line: We pray for so many in so many countries that feel forced to leave everything they know to travel so far to try to make a life for themselves and their family. It can help, it can hurt, but it is always hard, even in the best of circumstances. We also pray that as a mission we could be a small piece in helping Honduras.
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