Today we got a chance to hear the stories of two amazing women. After a great breakfast and taking in the beauty of the lake we sat down with Mayra (whose restaurant we were at yesterday) and Mari, a friend of hers. Mari is Guatemalan. She first came to Mexico when she was 12, getting a job at a restaurant where she wasn’t paid for two months. She went back and lived with her father for awhile before crossing again. Here in Chiapas she met and married her husband, who is also Guatemalan, and they have three kids. Neither of them have papers to be here, though they’ve lived in this town for nine years. The system makes it incredibly hard to get these papers. They have worked hard despite a lot of hardship and have managed to get papers for their children, all born in Mexico. Before they had these papers the children were unable to attend school, not because it was illegal ( children have the right to education without papers) but because the teachers refused to teach them. Because of the kids Mari is harassed less than her husband who just a couple of months ago was arrested and beaten. I am reminded of Mexican migrants at the Northern broader because the questions they ask are the same as Mari’s: why do they treat us this way? Why can’t they see we are human just like them?
Mayra told us a different story. She has lived in this area for many years and has seen a side of migration we haven’t heard a lot about yet. Human traffickers will go to Central America and find young girls, telling them about a great job at a restaurant they can have in Mexico. Some are also promised help on the journey north after a short time of work. Instead, these girls are brought to work in bars, and forced into prostitution. Mayra began to meet these girls when they would come hurriedly into her restaurant in their twenty minute break for food at night. Over time she built relationships with them; giving them a place to talk, be heard, and learn about their rights. Though the system continues, she works to show them the light of Christ in whatever way she can.
The rest of our day was spent driving back to Tapachula, where we are settled in for the night. A relaxing morning and then a plane ride back to Mexico City awaits us tomorrow.