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Stories from Brave Journeys / Pasos Valientes

Published by Herstory Writers Network in 2018



I. I Will Never Forget You/Nunca te olvidaré

2.5 pages

A young girl, growing up without a father or mother learns that her father had been murdered when she was eight years old.  When she is 16, she asks to travel to the United States to meet her mother.  But, when the time comes she doesn’t want to leave the grandmother who raised her behind.  It is the grandmother, whose words give her the courage to face the journey, even in the knowledge that many die along the way.   

Hunger, violence, loss, American Dream, goals, desire for a better future, risk taking, sickness/health, leaving a loved one

II. Daughter, Do You Still Want to Go?/Hija, ¿aún te quieres ir?

3 pages

In light of her mother’s depression after her aunt and uncle are murdered, a girl decides to journey to America to seek a better life.  While her grandmother wishes her courage and strength, her mother turns away, while begging her not to go.  This is a story of how a girl can acquire strength through remembering the words that set her on her journey and discovering compassion for those she is leaving behind.  

Family unit, homicide, death, depression, mental health, domestic relationships, leaving a loved one, strength, inspiration. memories

III. I Had to Do It/Tenía que hacerlo

1.5 pages

After experiencing a happy childhood with her grandparents, a girl decides to come to this country because of the problems in her country and her desire for a better life.  She experiences unbearable hardships during the journey, but continues, motivated by the desire to see her mother (whom she hasn’t seen for 12 years) and to give her a hug.  She is fortunate in that she has a positive experience with the immigration authorities, but soon after she is reunited with her mother, her stepfather becomes very abusive and her relationship with her mother shatters. A year later she learns that her beloved grandmother has died.  

Necessity, suffering, endurance, rejection, survival, perseverance, love, loss, attachment, reuniting with a loved one

IV. Son, and What If I Don’t See You Again?/Hijo, ¿y si ya no te vuelvo a ver?

3 pages

The narrator’s life view is shaped by his knowledge of his father’s work accident that happened during his time in the womb.  This creates a very special bond with his father, so that when he is given no choice but to leave his country with his mother, it is a very serious blow. He begins with a reflection on how a stumble doesn’t have to be a fall.

Hardship, work injuries, family separation, resilience

V. A Longed-for Reunion/Tan anhelado reencuentro

6.5 pages

The narrator makes the difficult decision to leave her beloved grandparents in El Salvador and make the journey to the Unites States to reunite with her parents. She describes a long journey by bus- making friends along the way- confronting her fear of crossing the dangerous river on an inflatable raft, and an anxious and perilous wait to be released from the coolers after reaching Immigration. The story ends with a sweet reunion with her close family and a brief meditation on the family she left behind.

Perseverance, family, pain, gender roles, family separation, faith, spirituality, overcoming fear, hope, grief, finding peace

VI. And Now, It Is My Turn/Y ahora, es mi turno

2.5 pages

Narrator watches her mother make the decision to leave her family to escape the horrors of domestic violence. After years of being left alone, it is her turn to bring the baby she is carrying to safety and a better life.

Teen pregnancy, domestic violence, abandonment, perseverance, resilience, responsibility, new beginnings

VII. Every Time I Looked Back/Cada vez que miraba atrás

5.5 pages

A young woman gives birth to a child in a country where she has little opportunity to meet her child’s needs. Lacking the support of the child’s father, the young woman leaves her six-year-old in the care of her parents and emigrates to the US. Years later, the child’s mother makes arrangements for her to join her in the US. The teen is pressured to leave by those she loves, for they believe it is best that she be reunited with her mother and take advantage of the opportunities that life in the US have to offer. So with no advance notice, the teenager must say goodbye to her grandparents to whom she is deeply attached, board a bus with a distant cousin whom she has met only once, and begin the long journey to the US. This is the story of the emotional impact of that event on the child’s life.

Migration, family separation, teen independence, abandonment, parenting, judging others

VIII. My Most Melancholic Day/Mi día más melancólico

2 pages

A young boy describers his last conversation with his closest friends before he leaves to make the journey to the United States. He meditates on his family drama, telling readers that his friends are the only ones who know about his anticipated journey to the US.

Friendship, love, hope, support, perseverance, finding purpose

IX. I Have to Continue My Journey/Tengo que seguir mi camino

2.5 pages

Throughout the story, the narrator is torn between wanting to stay with their family and to leave them behind on the journey to a better future in the United States. The narrator has a final home-cooked meal with their mother before starting on the difficult journey to the United States, thinking about her love and missing her voice the whole time. Despite the longing, the narrator knows they must continue their journey.

Wisdom, decision making, family love, friendship, separation, loss, grief, goals, dreams, attachment, motherly love

X. Will We See Each Other Again?/¿Nos volveremos a ver?

2 pages

The narrator’s mom suddenly tells them and their brother that she has to leave the house. Once the mother has left and traveled to the United States, her abusive sister comes to take care of the kids. They suffer neglect, violence, and malnourishment all the while making valiant efforts to reconnect with their mother and escape their situation. Narrator describes their motivation to study hard and seek out love in a home where there is none. Finally, the siblings are rescued by a friend of their mother and eventually able to travel to the United States as well.

Attachment, domestic violence, social class, neglect, sibling love, bravery, perseverance, wisdom, injustice

XI. How Do I Explain . . . ?/¿Cómo le explico . . . ?

2 pages

Our sixteen-year-old narrator meditates on the beauty of her day-to-day life in her home country. Her story tells of the last moments she spends in Venezuela with her loving family and closest friends. When the time comes to board a plane to the United States, her two-year-old cousin won’t let go of her, crying and pleading to come with. She boards the plane feeling helpless that she can’t explain to him the profound reason for her departure.

Familial bonds, hopelessness, trust, family separation, the unknown, love

XII. By Fate’s Choice/Por decisión del destino

2.5 pages

One day, the narrator receives a call from her dad asking if she’d like to travel to the United States. She is faced with a difficult decision, not wanting to leave her mother and siblings behind. In the end, she decides to go to the U.S., meditating on the beauty life has brought her and the gratitude she feels toward God for placing this journey in her path.

Natural beauty, faith, spirituality, family love, decision making, mother-daughter love, honor, strength, staying positive, motivation, mindset

XIII. When the Heart and the Mind Don’t Agree/Cuando el corazón y la mente no están de acuerdo

1.5 pages

We meet the narrator happily playing outside when their mom calls to tell them that they will be coming to the United States. The narrator compares their heart to glass and throughout the story, we see them trying to cope with leaving their home behind. The narrator says goodbye to their Dad and home country, then describes a feeling of glass shattering.

Shock, heartbreak, loss, numbness, home, fragility, coping

XIV. I Will Walk to the End/Caminaré hasta el final

1.5 pages

The story begins with the narrator deciding to pursue her journey to the United States, despite an overwhelming wave of sadness. A woman takes care of the narrator along the journey and she meets two other girls to travel with, although one is unable to cross the river for lack of payment. She is then transported to the coolers, of which she speaks of the horrific conditions. She is then moved to the dog house, and later to a home where she waits for 17 days before finally arriving in New York. She said New York feels like a vacation until she realizes how hard it is to navigate without speaking English.

Grief, social connection, socioeconomic issues, immigration, living conditions, language barriers, coping

XV. Epilogue: No Dream Is Illegal/Ningún sueño es ilegal

2.5 pages

The narrator sits at his window and recalls his first day at school, where other students are rude to him because he asks for help in Spanish. As he walks home, he overhears a group of men making fun of Latinos and wishes he could escape his reality. At home, he calls his grandmother and she tells him about the journey his grandpa made to come to the United States. He lays down to sleep, only then realizing his window is still open  

Racial injustice, language barriers, social class, sacrifice, honor, protection, legal system, documentation, deportation

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