Born in Honduras, 19-year-old Levi is a middle child in a family of 10. Because his parents were separated, Levi lived with his older brother, Ernesto, who was in the armed forces. When his brother’s service ended, local gangs tried to recruit him. Ernesto was warned to join a gang or he would be killed. Ernesto was murdered one day aboard a public bus.
One gang then turned their attention to Levi, threatening him with the same fate as his older brother. Not wanting to join a gang or be killed, Levi fled Honduras in April 2011 and traveled to the United States. With $100 and hope in his pocket, Levi set out on a 25-day journey. He walked for 12 days and traveled by train, bus and van for another 13 days before reaching the U.S. border. Levi was initially detained at the juvenile detention center in Brownsville, Texas for four and a half months. Later, after establishing that he was18 years old, he was transferred to the adult detention center in Port Isabel, Texas. Levi was detained there for almost four more months before finally being released to La Posada in December 2011.
Levi has captured the hearts of everyone at La Posada and every other person he encounters. Hard-working, kind, respectful and deeply spiritual, he never misses church services. He will walk under the hot sun or the pouring rain to attend.
When he came to La Posada, Levi could not speak English, but now easily converses and builds his vocabulary skills daily. “He is keen on learning and stands as a strong example to new clients who are struggling with the language barriers,” says Client Coordinator Monica Peña-Rasmussen. “He has a positive attitude that makes him a role model for other clients.”
Levi remained positive as he waited for his case to proceed through the immigration court. During his stay, he performed chores around the shelter learning about cooking, organic gardening, recycling and home maintenance. In late July 2012, he received his permanent residency card and is already looking forward to pursuing his citizenship. Levi is thankful for the support, language and life skills he learned at La Posada.
“I want to thank the Sisters for giving me so much support, love, patience, the opportunity to learn and a family to love and respect,” says Levi. “Thanks to La Posada, I had a comfortable place to live and develop skills that will be helpful for my future. When I arrived, I didn’t know a single word of English. Now I can write and speak in English and I will keep learning. I will never forget La Posada. It will be in my heart. I will keep in touch.”