When we moved to Mexico last year, we moved to a country with a diverse culture and incredible people. But we also moved to a country shaken by a deep social crisis, that has taken the lives of thousands and buried the dreams of millions.
A Dangerous Journey
My attention was drawn to one topic over and over again: The migrants from Central America on their way north, escaping from their violent neighbourhoods and searching for a better livelihood in the US. Their journey is one of the most dangerous. Certain figures don’t exist, but activists estimate that between 70,000 and 120,000 migrants went missing in Mexico since 2006.
Without a sign of their beloved ones, the families of disappeared migrants live their lives torn between hope and fear. To change that, the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, lead by activists Marta Sánchez Soler and Rubén Figueroa, started organising the Caravan of Mothers of Disappeared Migrants.
A year ago, I joined the 40 mothers from Central America on their difficult journey through Mexico in search of their missing children. For two weeks, we travelled through 5 Mexican states, often sleeping on the floors of migrant shelters. We followed the mothers as they visited schools and even brothels, guided by the hope of finding signs of their daughters and sons.
Between Hope And Fear
Listening to their stories, the photos of their missing children that the mothers always carry with them came to life. Priscila was the first mother that I approached during the caravan. The beautiful portrait of her daughter Yesenia – dressed completely in white – contrasted with the sadness in her dark eyes. “At night, I sometimes wake up and ask myself, where is my daughter? Is she alive or is she dead?”, she told me during our first interview in a migrant shelter in Palenque.
During their journey, Priscila and the other mothers had to face their worst fears. But I also witnessed how their group spirit grew stronger day by day. “We support each other and I feel proud to be looking for her”, Priscila said. The shy mothers grew into lively characters. I could feel their energy when they shouted slogans at their protest in Mexico City.
The hope of finding their missing children is what helps Priscila and the other mothers to cope with their pain. “Because a mother will always be a mother. And a mother waits for her children.”
Here’s her story that I shot for AJ+:
More than ever, we need to listen to the stories of those leaving their homes to flee violence and in search of a better life. Their testimonies have the power to connect us. They might even help to overcome the anti-immigrant sentiments that have become popular in our countries.
If you’d like to support the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, visit: https://movimientomigrantemesoamericano.org/donaciones/.
Thanks to Rubén Figueroa, Encarni Pindado who invited me to join the caravan and Tupac Saavedra at AJ+ for commissioning the story and putting it together.
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