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Refugee Stories: “He shot and killed my mother in front of all of us”

The plight of refugees and migrants from South America grows more drastic and their fate more uncertain. Refugee Stories are testimonies from children, adults, and families, gathered by the Salvadorean Lutheran Church, our companion synod in El Salvador, and CARECEN, an organization working to change the immigration system, win legal status for immigrants, and foster community activism. These stories are a tool and a witness for Refugee and Migrant Sunday and beyond; please share them with your congregations and ministries.

“I left Guatemala after both of my parents were murdered by gang members. My father was a humble farmer who was gunned down while he was working in the fields. No one knows why he was targeted.

“A few years later, I was home with my mother and my four siblings when a masked man holding a shotgun broke into our home. The man demanded all of the money we had in the house, but we didn’t have enough for him, so he shot and killed my mother in front of all of us. That was the hardest thing in my life, seeing my mother killed in front of me.

“I have a sister who is close to my age, but our other three siblings are very young. My sister and I didn’t know how we were going to take care of them. After our mom was killed, my sister and I decided to move to another part of Guatemala. We knew that gang members will often break into houses where young women are staying alone and rape them, and we didn’t want to stay in the place where we had seen our mother killed.

“We tried to make ends meet in another part of Guatemala, but we couldn’t make enough to take care of our little brother and sisters. All of us were so affected by our parents’ death, but we weren’t able to afford any kind of therapy; we could barely afford enough to eat. We never felt safe wherever we went.

“So, we decided to come to the United States so that our younger siblings could feel safe, get an education, and have a better life than what my sister and I could offer them after our parents were taken away from us.”