Central America is the most violent region in the world. Many migrants flee their homes to escape criminal gangs. These gangs are especially dangerous for children since the recruit children from a very young age; young boys are forced to fight for the gangs, and young girls are forced to be one of the several “wives” which each gang member has. Many people also choose to leave their homes in search of a better life; it is impossible for them to break out of the cycle of poverty while remaining in their home countries, so they travel North hoping to find a job to support themselves and their families. Some migrants pay for “coyotes” to transfer them; most use a cargo train that travels from Honduras to the United States known as the Train of Death or “La Bestia” because so many people are killed or severely injured while traveling on it. Each migrant faces unimaginable suffering in his or her journy, and each has his or her unique story. Below are brief accounts of the journeys of a few of the migrants who arrived at Casa Monarca.
Recruited by criminal gangs, thirteen-year-old Christian fled from Honduras on his own, hoping to reach the US. He rode the famously dangerous cargo train known as La Bestia towards the US. Near Monterrey, he fell off La Bestia and was caught underneath it; by the time the train stopped, he had already been dragged about 100 meters and his backside had completely ripped off. After Casa Monarca was alerted, we funded his hospital treatments, including an implant, and came often to visit and provide emotional support. After six months in the hospital, Christian is now living with his mother in Miami.
Edgar and Jader were traveling on La Bestia from Guatemala when they were robbed of all of their money and belongings, including their clothes. They arrived at Casa Monarca with absolutely nothing, exhausted and starving. Casa Monarca provided them with food and clothing and helped them find jobs transporting timber. The two men faced racial discrimination in the workplace, yet they worked hard and managed to save money; in fact, they were so successful that they returned often to Casa Monarca as volunteers to deliver humanitarian aid to other migrants. When they saved enough money they returned to Guatemala in order to support their families.
Efren, who traveled from Honduras in La Bestia, was stopped by police in Monterrey. They beat him, robbed all his possessions, and pushed him off the train. He fell on the tracks and the train ran over his legs, slicing them off. He was taken to the hospital. Casa Monarca paid for his treatments and provided him with everything he needed: medicine, clothes, a wheelchair. Knowing he would not be able to find work without legs, Casa Monarca took him to a migrant shelter in Saltillo.
Luis and Jose, two brothers from Guatemala, were traveling on La Bestia when they were beaten up with machetes and rifle butts as the train passed through a small town Arriaga in the southern state Chiapa. They didn’t know who had attacked them or why. When they recovered they continued traveling on the Beast, only to be kidnapped in the state of Chihuahua. The two brothers didn’t have any living family aside from each other; when they were extorted for money by the kidnappers, they had no relatives to pay the ransom, and were tortured brutally for five days. The brothers told us that the kidnappers left them alive because they saw them praying for God’s mercy to save them. When the two finally reached Monterrey, Casa Monarca gave them clothing and food, and helped them search for employment.
Edgar, originally from Honduras, was recently deported from the US. He arrived in Monterrey desperately sick but with no knowledge of the city or of how he could get medical help. Casa Monarca funded and supported his hospital treatments, including a serious surgery.
Nine-year-old Omar and his six-year-old brother David were traveling from Guatemala with a coyote (someone who smuggles migrants across the border for a fee). They reached a migration checkpoint and the police instructed them to stop. The coyote continued to drive, ignoring Omar’s desperate pleas to obey the order, and the police opened fire on the children. Omar was shot in the stomach and David’s forehead was grazed by a bullet. The two brothers spent three months in the hospital. Casa Monarca paid for their treatments, and supported them with constant visits and loving care. Casa Monarca managed to get in touch with the boy’s uncle, who lived in Texas. Now the boys live with their mother in the United States.