Two Months and Twenty Days St. Louis CDP Sister speaks about experience at La Posada
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Everyone receiving shelter services from La Posada Providencia has a story; I’ve read these stories over the years. I heard this one first-hand while at La Posada, a ministry sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Providence. I recently traveled there for the first time from St. Louis, Mo., to give a talk to the staff, volunteers, board members and clients.
Upon arrival, I was welcomed warmly by those in the women’s house, where I would be staying. One of the women there particularly made an impression on me as she tended to her three-month old baby. While staying at the shelter, I had the opportunity to hear her story and it touched my heart deeply. I felt I had to share it with others.
The Somalian woman’s story began in South Africa, where she lived and worked with her husband and children. Some details from her story are left out simply for her protection. We’ll call her Sarah.
There was corruption in her town in South Africa and she spoke out against it. She received some warnings until one day government officials came for her and imprisoned her for two months. During this time she was beaten with a pipe a couple of times a day. Meanwhile, her family worked to free her and finally was able to do so. It was very evident, however, that she needed to leave her country.
Sarah told me that it was her father who begged her to go so she wouldn’t lose her life. After some very heart wrenching discussions, it was decided that she would leave her children with her parents and husband and set out for the United States alone.
Sarah was nearly six months pregnant.
The journey from South Africa took Sarah first to Brazil by plane, and then she began her two-month and 20-day journey through the jungle, over mountains, across water by boat, walking through many countries. From Brazil she traveled through Peru, to Colombia and Panama. The walkers she traveled with slept under trees, walked miles each day, suffered from the heat, with little food and water supplied. It was a scary time for her; a woman alone in a group of mostly men.
By the time she arrived in Panama, her feet were blistered, infected, and she had a fever. At that point she couldn’t go on, and ended up in a hospital for a few days before she was sent on her way again. From Panama, Sarah journeyed to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and finally ended up entering the United States through the gate from Matamoros in Mexico to South Texas near Harlingen. Providentially, she made her way to La Posada where she found safety, rest, and care.
Two months and twenty days brought Sarah to a place where she could rest, be cared for, and finally, to deliver her baby on September 16 in the freedom and safety of the United States.
“La Posada will always hold a special place in my heart,” she told me. “It was the first time since leaving my home that I felt safe. They helped me to get better, to feel better, because I was so tired. They helped me to become myself once again.”
Sarah is so appreciative of the help she received from La Posada that she even named her baby’s middle name after the shelter, “La Posada.”
“I never want to forget La Posada and all that was done for me here,” she told me. “I want my son to know how he came to be born in this special place and I will tell him the story.”
Each of the hundreds of clients who come to La Posada every year has a story. Most of the stories, upon hearing them, will break your heart. The stories, however, often have a happy ending, or rather, a new beginning. Their stories of new beginnings are the ones in which I invite you to embrace.
I would also like to invite you, personally, to support this wonderful ministry of hope and new beginnings by attending La Posada’s upcoming Hands & Hearts Brunch and Auction, a fundraising event from which this ministry obtains much needed operating revenues.
Hands & Hearts will take place Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 at La Sierra Event Center in Harlingen. For tickets and more information, contact La Posada at 956-399-3826.
With your Hands, and your Hearts, we can make sure to continue writing the next chapter of stories such as the one I just told you.
In God’s Providence,
Sr. Barbara McMullen, CDP
Executive Director, Women of Providence in Collaboration
St. Louis, Missouri
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La Posada Providencia, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Providence, is a ministry for people in crisis from around the world, who are seeking legal refuge in this country. The shelter staff provides a safe and welcoming home; mentors to promote self-sufficiency and cultural integration; and imparts values which witness God’s Providence in our world.