Sol Foundation International
Sol Foundation International

Crisis on the Border: A Honduran’s View

(Natan Webster is currently pursuing a medical degree and is the recipient of a medical scholarship sponsored by The Foundation for the Advancement of People administered through SOL International Foundation.  He is a 3rd year medical student living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.)

 

 

Crisis at the border: A Honduran´s View

 

Let’s be clear illegal immigration is…. well illegal, every country has a sovereign right to have and defend its borders. I oppose illegal immigration and believe people should be punished who break the law. Now what is going on with the U.S southern border is sad indeed, I understand some of my american friends who have made very nasty comments about these kids, after all they are undermining your country´s sovereignty and breaking the law. But I also understand these kids because I am one of them. No I have never even thought about illegally going to the United States, But I live in Honduras one of the countries most of these kids are coming from. I have had friends that have made that dangerous journey, some on repeated occasions. I have had family that made that journey some of whom I have never seen since, or who came back deeply damaged like my uncle who came back with both his arms amputated.

I like the way David Gergen at CNN summed up the situation, and I quote:
“As America grapples with a crisis of children on its southern border, another image from another time seems inescapable: that ship full of Jewish refugees off our shores as World War II approached.
You might have seen the story portrayed in the Holocaust Museum in Washington. It unfolded in 1939 as Jewish families fleeing from Germany took passage to Cuba on a German liner, the St. Louis. While underway, Cuba decided to deny them entry so they turned toward America, desperately hoping the United States would show them compassion.
But the U.S. political climate had turned hostile toward the growing number of European Jewish immigrants. On June 6, 1939, their ship hovered off the coast of Miami Beach — only to learn that the U.S. government refused them entry.
Losing hope, the St. Louis turned back to Europe and there, in the months and years that followed, over a third of its passengers perished at Nazi hands. America has had many noble moments, but that was a moment of shame that left an indelible stain.
Seventy-five years later, we are faced with a new group of desperate people hovering in our midst — this time children from Central America escaping escalating levels of violence few of us can fathom. While certainly no Nazi Germany, the growing humanitarian crisis in their home countries is glaring as rising murder rates for youths are a driving force behind the mass exodus.
How will we respond this time?”

Just as with the Jewish refugees on the St. Louis, this influx is not primarily a story of immigrants traveling to America to seek opportunity and prosperity. This is a story of three countries so plagued by gang violence, chaos and poverty that a family would rather pay a “coyote” 18 months of income to take their 14-year-old daughter on a life-threatening 45-day, 2,000-mile journey than have her risk her life at home.
This is a story of three countries with levels of violence comparable to a war zone. Honduras suffers from the highest murder rate in the world, and El Salvador and Guatemala are in the top five. In fact, a civilian is twice as likely to be killed in these three countries as in Iraq during the height of the war. It’s the kids who are most at risk in this story. Boys are recruited into gangs sometimes before they hit their teenage years. Girls are forced into non-consensual relationships with gang members where they are raped, abused and sometimes “disposed” of afterward. And any defiance invites violent retaliation and, often, death.
One immigration rights advocate recalls a mother telling her,  “I would rather see my child die on the way to the United States than die on my doorstep.”  Another organization reports a child explaining, “If you stay, you will die, if you leave, you might. … Either way it’s better to try.”
What should be done?”

My friend Ana Svoboda shared the following stats on Facebook.
“It is the worse migration crisis ever seen, but who can blame them? There are very few Hondurans that have the chance to make it through school. Out of 100 only 89 make it to 6th grade. Out of 89 only 49 make it to 7th grade. Out of 49 only 29 make it out of high school. Out of 29 only 15 make it to College and out of 15 only 7 graduate from college—true statistics.”

Friends we all know that education makes a big difference in people´s lives. Part of the answer to the humanitarian crisis of this generation is education. We all can help solve these problems not with some short term fix but something that will make a difference for the long term. I saw the request for over 3 billion dollars that president Obama made to congress and I could not help but think, “What a difference that money would make and how quickly this problem would be solved if it was invested in improving the lives of these kids back home.”  I do not advocate giving money to the Honduran government; money given to this government rarely gets to the people that need it the most.

There are organizations such as SOL Foundation, Students Helping Honduras, and Little friends Foundation that are making a huge difference in the life of Honduran kids every day. SOL foundation provides scholarship and after school activities for kids that help keep them away from the gangs and building a better future for themselves. I am one of SOL scholarship recipients and I must say that SOL has given me a reason to hope that I can have a good life right here in my country helping and serving people in my community as a doctor, and they are doing the same for many other kids. You might say, “Well,what does this have to do with immigration?” Well I will never head for the border, my kids will never head for the border, and many more people affected by my success will never head for the border. A dollar sent to an organization such as SOL will make more of a difference in this humanitarian crisis than hundreds of dollar on border police or thousands given to the Honduran government.

So I make a call to all my American friends:  If this crisis concerns you and you would like to help make a difference go on over to SOL´s website and chip in to help them continue to do the work they are doing. You can make a huge difference today, long term difference, just by donating a few dollars. A donation of any amount will help the guys at SOL continue to offer hope and a better future to children who most need it in Honduras. Or just go over to their website and read about what they are doing, share it with a friend, or find out other ways that you can help.

One Response to “Crisis on the Border: A Honduran’s View”

  1. Eileen Kooreman Says:

    Thank you for the insightful comments. There are so many people of integrity trying to make a difference in Honduras and create hope for the future in the hearts of children and families there. I serve on the board of a small school that exists on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. They raise support in the U.S. to keep tuition low and affordable for students. These kids can attend a school that is close by and is embraced by their community providing some measure of safety as they walk to school. This is one of the best investments Americans can make in Latin American. An opportunity for education can make all the difference.

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