Alaycia Esteen and Dean Jourdan
There are many stories of Latinos coming to America, but they aren’t told how they want them to be told. Damaris, an eleven year old Honduran girl, experiences a tragic ending to her way of life in Tocoa and is shaken by a terrifying journey.
“So. My name is Damaris and-and I am from Honduras. Life over there was not easy for me. I can say that because… it was hard. But, I used to go- I used to go to school from mmm seven a.m to twelve [p.m]. That was my school hours. And I used to live with my cousin, her name was Nora. And she was [a] really bad cousin because she treated me very bad, and she made me- I was like her servant. Me and my sibling. He was only eight. And my mom and my dad were not living with me at the time, so I had to go with it. I had nowhere else to go.”
Eventually, Damaris’s parents found out that Nora was treating her and her brother horribly. They then moved with their tia (aunt) and life got better.
“It was better because my aunt treated me really nice and she raised me like her own… daughter. And then umm… years passed. A lot of them. And my younger brother- he didn’t even know my father. We were like completely strangers. We just talked on the phone every umm… Sunday. And that was it. So. Then my mom decided to… to go back to Honduras to get us. ‘Cause she couldn’t live without’ us. That’s what she said, but I mean… who leaves their child and forgets about them? So umm, she went back and she went to get us. It was really bad for us coming here because we had to pass a lot of bad stuff. We didn’t come here on a plane. We came here like on a car or walking. It was like- horrible. Bad. And like… that’s a different story- that… I don’t know. So… I came here. So… I started umm- I-I rode a bus from Honduras to Guatemala borders. From Guatemala we got in a- we started walking. We had to cross a river. But that was like- that wasn’t the hard part. From Guatemala to Mexico border… From Guatemala to Mexico, we had to get in this truck. We-we actually walked and rode cars for like… It didn’t really matter if it was three a.m or five or six p.m. And my brother was only eight years old at the time. So it was so hard for him.”
Despite starving and walking for hours, Damaris remained selfless in an endless nightmare. “I used to cry every night, thinking about how did my brother- how hard it was for him. I mean I really didn’t care about myself, I just cared about the safety of my brother. It took a month to come here.”
And to think, this little girl struggled through such a melancholy journey to make it to the United States. “One time, while we were coming here I remember them putting us in a truck. It was a truck where you put food. It was very, very harsh. They didn’t feed us for like three days. We were there, and my little brother. I remember that we had candy. And that’s what we ate for those three days. Candy, because they didn’t give us no food.”
Damaris gave her food to her brother because he was too little and fragile to only eat solely what they had given him. “We had to get out of the [truck] and we went onto this cornfield where another car had to pick us up. So we did it. We went to the cornfield, and they gave us something, but I mean who could eat at that point? They… it was so bad. We got into another car, we went to another station thing. It started to rain. We had to cross a field of like- of plants with thorns. We were dirty. My brother was sick. He almost died. My brother almost died [ it was] to the point [that] I was crying. I would keep going because I knew we couldn’t go back. What was the point of going back? From there, we were taken into this house. We [stayed] there for like a week. We were there with twenty more people. I don’t remember. There was one fridge, and there was not enough food. Still, we didn’t eat that much. The only food that we get we gave it to my brother because he was the smallest one. We had to sleep in a thing. I don’t know how it goes. We were put in another house and it was the same thing over again. It was bad.”
Finally, after all the tears and pain, Damaris, Olvin (her brother), and Santos (her mother) barely made it breathing when they arrived in the south of America.
“And then we came here. To Louisiana. And here we are. Living as it is. Right now. It all started just because somebody thought that we had money. My father was here. He sent us money sometimes, so the gangs thought that he had a lot of money. It was really bad for us. So yeah.”
Damaris Alejandra Vargas lives happily with her two little brothers, mother, and father in a house in New Orleans, Louisiana. There is more to her story that she chooses not to expose.
To this day, Damaris has not been back to Tocoa, Colon. Though… the spirit of Honduras still burns in her.