I struggled a lot to get here. I took an eight-hour bus ride from my home village to the closest big city
. I flew to the Middle East and then to Brazil. The moment I arrived in Rio, I started seeing things I had never imagined. And being so young, I didn’t know America was so far away. I thought I would find safety somewhere close to Rio, but no.
I traveled by bus, car, or trunk from Brazil to Peru. I was traveling in a group with people I did not know. I felt powerless and vulnerable. As I’ve grown older and matured, I can now understand, but at that time, I didn’t have the option to say no to anything. Saying no meant seeing guns and machetes near my head, so I was always scared for my life. I always thought, “I need to get to my destination so that I can make a better life for me and my family.” In Ecuador and Colombia, I had to climb mountains. We went to Cali and Medellín and then to Turbo. We were then covered with black plastic sheets in a small boat. After 4 – 5 hours in darkness, I got off and realized we were in a jungle. I didn’t know where I was. Now that I’ve studied, I know, but back then I didn’t know anything. We walked through the jungle. The only thing I had was a small bag of cookies, but no water. Nothing. I saw some cruel things that I never expected to see.