We shall call her “Isabel,” (a pseudonym for security.) Isabel left Somalia in August 2016; She arrived in the U.S. in November 2016 and arrived at La Posada May 4, 2017. Isabel fled Somalia because of the oppression against women that she suffered. In Somalia, women have no rights or say in what goes on in their homes, communities, nor in the government. Isabel’s situation at home was particularly difficult. She was imprisoned there for not following what her family considered to be an appropriate relationship with her husband. With the help of an aunt, she was able to escape her family’s home and began her journey to freedom. She decided to come to the United States because it respects human rights and treats all human beings the same, including women.
Isabel further explained, that, in her country, women and children are second-class citizens. They have no rights or opportunities. Men consider women as property and do with them as they please. Isabel never attended school. Her father died when she was a baby and little care was provided by her mother. Isabel cared for herself and her siblings on her own. She worked to help her mother feed the family and her brother taught her English. Once she married, her future appeared especially bleak.
Isabel’s journey to freedom was difficult and dangerous. She traveled through seven countries; Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. She used an airplane, trains, busses, cars, and her feet – walking. Throughout her journey, various immigration officials detained her, taking hours or days. She was held by immigration officials in Mexico for 11 days. In other countries, she paid fines in order to continue. She was also robbed along the way, but managed to hide some of her money in her clothes allowing her to continue the journey. When she arrived at La Posada, she had very little left.
Once Isabel reached the U.S. to request asylum, she was detained for six months. She said she was treated very well, received medical attention and spoke with a psychologist for depression. Throughout, she was treated with respect. While in detention, Isabel was impressed by the number of people detained from countries representing different religions. Hence, she did not feel discriminated against or that she was taken to a detention center because she is Muslim. She said the judge was very fair and awarded her asylum.
When asked how she felt about being La Posada’s 9,000th client, Isabel had this to say:
“I feel freedom. I have everything I want and need. I am very, very happy to be here. I sleep in a big bed all by myself, and have everything I need. I have clothes, food, lotion, toothpaste, milk. When I arrived, I remember I didn’t have clothes to sleep in, so the Sisters gave me some. At La Posada, we all (clients) are treated in the manner mothers treat their kids, or even better. My mother would not treat me as well as La Posada does. There is even a cook at La Posada who cooks for us, instead of having the women clients preparing the meals. It is a very good place (La Posada) that takes really good care of us; they even give us snacks and ice cream! I like going to the classes very much.”
Isabel wants to continue her education and dreams of one day becoming a nurse. She left La Posada a week after she arrived. She went to live with her sister in Colorado. She is very excited to reunite with her sister; the day after she arrives, she will watch her niece (whom she has never met) graduate high school.