Luis is from a rural town in Guatemala. He didn’t start school until he was 11 years old and at the time cleaned boots to pay for school fees. Later (at age 13), he started harvesting coffee. Once he was 16, a Christian nonprofit started to help him with the school fees and helped him graduate. The day he graduated, he was bursting with pride. It had been a long, hard-won accomplishment.
Once Luis graduated, he started working for the same Christian nonprofit that had come alongside him. He served alongside them for 4 years and 4 months to spread awareness in the community about their programs and to bring the scholarship money to other kids in different rural communities. After 3 years he was promoted to the manager. It was fulfilling work, and Luis was proud to set others on the path that had led him to graduation. Luis experienced a blow when the foundation fell on hard times financially. They didn’t have enough income and had to cut back on the scholarships. He lost his job in 2012.
His daughter was only 1-month-old when he was laid off, and he was unemployed for 6 months. In September 2012, his daughter got sick. None of the medicines or remedies worked, but he prayed with his community. To Luis’ great relief, she recovered. Soon after, he got a job.
This new job did not pay a living wage, and he has struggled to earn enough in the last several years. Most recently his main source of income has been selling castoff clothing from the US. Even with this additional source of income, he and his wife have gone into debt with a variety of expenses. In an effort to earn more money and get out of debt, Luis left Guatemala to try to go to Los Angeles.
Earlier this year, he entered the desert and walked almost three days with his group. His feet were starting to get blistered. He fell back from the others. He rested briefly, and then was about to walk to catch up with them when he heard a Border Patrol truck. He hid, and Luis learned later that the agent saw others in his group and detained them.
Unaware, Luis kept walking all of Saturday, going over the hills until he made it to the spot they had agreed to rest. When he realized the other members of his group weren’t there, he could have felt very alone. Yet he says that he felt incredible warmth, peace, and comfort on that night – much different than what he had felt other nights.
The next day, he decided to turn himself in. He spent the whole day trying to find Border Patrol (BP), screaming and crying into the wind at God. He was finally detained at 6pm and promptly expelled to Nogales. Soon after, we welcomed him to our Migrant Outreach Center.
Luis says he was deeply moved by the assistance of KBI, because he had worked in a community organization, too. Even though he is all alone in Nogales, he doesn’t feel alone knowing that an organization familiar to him is here. He has been amazed at how he felt supported here, how well organized we are, the delicious food, the clothing, the medical assistance for his blisters, etc.
When he thinks about his experience and what lies ahead, Luis’ faith sustains him. His ultimate dream is to preach. He wants to continue to help others, just as he had been assisted by the organization in Guatemala. He says he just needs the resources to do it, ones that he never had in Guatemala.
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