Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 5, 2007
Manglio chased his dream and found despair
A Missionary's Musings
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
I was alone at the house enjoying the quietness after Father Sergio left very early with two would-be Oblates with the objective of visiting a few communities that day. It felt good being alone, but then inevitably the doorbell rang.
The man told me his name, Manglio, and that he was in dire straits as he had spent all his money, some 2,000 quetzals (about $330), a major fortune that he had painfully pulled together for many months.
His dream had been to make it (illegally) to the U.S. where he could get a good-paying job and thus provide well for his wife and their three children.
The school in his community ends with Grade 6. In order to complete their basico, what would be our junior high, his children would have to travel to Chicaman, and pay room and board somewhere, a total impossibility in his situation.
For his children
He tried making a go of it in Guatemala's capital city with its four million people. Surely he could find a job out there somewhere, he felt. In spite of his good will and efforts, he ended up being assaulted and robbed three times. That experience only strengthened his resolve to make a go of it in the U.S.
He was making a living in his small community in the area of Lacentillo, a two-hour drive from Chicaman. He has some land that provides him and his family with the basic survival food.
With the corn and the beans that he plants, as well as a few fruit trees, and chicken and the eggs they lay, they were managing.
But when you're 29, you still have dreams and Manglio was restless after hearing of the good money some of his friends were making working illegally in the U.S.
Some of them were driving back to Guatemala with nice pickup trucks.
Why not gather a bit of money and head out for dreamland?
He finally put some money together, some 2,000 quetzals -quite a fortune!
He set out for the U.S. with renewed confidence. He arrived at the Mexican border with neither passport nor any ID. Entering Mexico did not turn out to be a great blessing, as he experienced all kinds of dangers.
Police and guards were all over the place and they were the first to clean the would-be immigrants of any money or valuables they might have.
In Mexico there is a special police called the "Beta" with the duty to protect the immigrants. But these protectors ended up robbing him clean.
Manglio's adventure lasted 16 days. In that time he ended up paying migration officials, the federal police, the army and the police. He had the choice of paying these officials who pocketed the money for themselves or he could go to jail for an undetermined length of time.
The poor man returned home from Mexico broke, his dreams for a new life shattered. He told me he had no choice but to go back and farm his small plot of land and thus provide some food for his family.
The dreams have all faded away quickly and he's returning to his roots somewhat wiser but also much sadder. In a sense it was a good experience, he feels, as he realized the negative aspects of this world of ours: a lot of racism and a lot of violence.
As well, he discovered that home was not that bad after all.
A different path
Manglio has decided to accept his destiny: staying close to his home and his community, working the land, being quiet, and enjoying his family and watching them grow. He has no dreams for his children except to share with them what is and what is not to be.
There are tons of Manglios in this part of the world. They have no idea how well off Canadians are. To know would no doubt make them sadder and more desperate. The possibilty they could live the lifestyle we take for granted in Canada is nil. The gravy train came by and stopped in Canada, a very long way from Guatemala.
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