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Desperation and Discrimination

May 31, 2016

Desperation and Discrimination

Last week was full of highs and lows where Moacir and I shared some beautiful moments and some terrifying ones too. As we reflect on last week’s events, we understand more than ever how grateful we are for each other, our family and our safety.
During the early hours of Monday morning we had a frightening wake up call. I woke up to the sound of broken glass and running feet as Moacir chased an intruder who'd broken in through our airbnb unit's kitchen window. Luckily the thief didn’t react violently and only took off with Moacir’s phone.  This invasion of privacy left us feeling really shaken up. We only caught a glimpse of the trespasser as he jumped out our window, onto the neighbours roof and landed on the ground below us. We noticed that he looked around the age of 18. It made me think of how desperate this young man was. What went so wrong in his life for him to have to steal for survival? The sad reality is that this desperation can stem from being born into poverty. With no choice of his own, this young man may have never had access to an education and therefore turned to stealing to get by. The anger I had for the young man soon dissapeared as I thought of his circumstances and hoped that one day his life would change. Thankfully Mision Mexico is breaking this cycle of poverty and helplessness in the lives of many children. Without guidance and education, these children may have also been subjected to a life of crime.
The next day Moacir went to the police station to report the incident in hope of claiming the theft on travel insurance. Moacir, a Nicaraguan citizen, seemed nervous about visiting the police department’s immigrant aid centre. At first I didn’t understand why but once Mo returned it all became clear. The officials didn’t believe his story and immediately Moacir went from being the victim to being suspected as a criminal. He explained to me that immigrants from Central America often face racial discrimination and social exclusion in Mexico. Especially in the border town of Tapachula, there are many people who have underlying negative attitudes towards immigrants. They are commonly seen as a burden, criminals or second class citizens and are often abused by the authorities that are supposed to be helping them.
I returned with Moacir to the immigrant police station the next day and as soon as the authorities saw me, an Australian citizen, their attitude towards Moacir changed. It took over 7 hours to receive the police report but at least Mo’s story was heard. The lack of respect shown to Mo angered me so much. To think that Moacir was turned away after being robbed made me wonder how many other immigrants seeking help were not taken seriously. What about women who had been abused, men who had been attacked or children’s lives that had been threatened? If they didn’t believe that Mo had been robbed, would they believe more serious cases? I can only hope that other crimes will also be brought to justice and the respect shown to me will one day be shown to all immigrants in this country.
During my time at the police station a woman arrived with her four children. Her clothes were dirty and her children were wearing no shoes. It appeared to us that she was a single mother, who migrated from Central America with her children in order to escape poverty and find work or help in Mexico. Moacir explained that it was very likely that she was homeless, was abandoned by her husband or that she may have been travelling north to escape abuse.
As we sat there waiting for our papers to be finished, the woman breastfed her youngest for the last time and soon after a car pulled up to take her four children away. As this woman could no longer afford to care for her children, Child Services had come to put them under their protection. Did she know where her children were going? Will her children be separated from each other? Will there be help available to this woman, so that one day she can be with her children again? My heart broke and once again I could only hope that her children would be taken somewhere like Mision Mexico.
Although the start of the week was very confronting and we witnessed things that I never hoped we would see, the end of the week certainly put a smile back on our faces.
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On Friday, one of my best friends surprised me with a visit. Mel had arrived just in time for our engagement party at Mision Surf and it was so special introducing her to all the kids at Mision Mexico. One of Mision Mexico’s talented girls decided I needed to be glammed up for the engagement party. She spent the whole afternoon doing my hair, nails and makeup, making the night even more special. She also lent me her shoes to wear as she refused to let me show up in lazy pants and thongs.
At the party we also celebrated Dulce’s graduation, as she is the first female from Mision Mexico to finish university. Dulce successfully completed a degree in social work and is really excited to start work in the field. She has such an exciting future ahead of her. It was such a fun night and was definitely what Mo and I needed. Sunday was spent at the beach with the Mision Mexico family where the kids surfed, swam, played on the shore and participated in beach flags. Being with the children on the beach, seeing them happy, healthy and smiling gave me hope. There is light in the darkness if you look for it.Skye.
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