Those are the words repeated over and over when Nelson tells the story of his journey to safety. Those words, along with walk, walk, walk.
Nelson, 18, grew up in the streets in Honduras. In November, 2008, street gangs and violence forced him and his 20-year-old brother to try to find safety in the United States. They had no money, so they walked much of the way – a distance of more than 1,000 miles. In Mexico, they hopped a train. At a stop, bandits boarded and demanded money from those aboard. Nelson managed to hide, but his brother was caught. Nelson hasn’t heard from him since. He travelled the rest of the way to the border by himself, on foot. He was only 17.
When Nelson arrived at the Rio Grande, he was fortunate to be taken in by a compassionate woman who lived nearby. “It was the first time I ever slept in a bed,” Nelson said.
Nelson swam across the Rio Grande in December, 2008, was taken into custody by border patrol, and put in detention. He remained there until December 2009, when he was released to La Posada. He is now in the process of obtaining legal status and takes daily language and life skills lessons here at the shelter. He recently obtained his work permit and got a part-time job at a local pizza place. He rides his bicycle the three miles to and from work and is saving his money for the future. He hopes to move on to settle with another client from La Posada.
One must wonder: how bad was Nelson’s life that he was willing to go through all of this?