At Christmas and New Years, one usually thinks about being in the company of loved ones, of one’s family. However there are situations in which it cannot be this way. The following lines intend to make visible the experience of living these days, from the voice of the people who live in La 72.
On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the different spaces of the house are collectively decorated, to add the Christmas spirit to the house, in order to make everyone feel a little more at home.
Despite the desire to help and the music that sounds, in the countenance of some people it is possible to perceive nostalgia, and a feeling of sadness that some people manage to express with words.
My mom, she is the one I miss the most … if I miss her a lot, this year I had a good time but also very sad, if I have spent Christmas without my mom but this was the one I felt the most, how she was waiting for me at this time … Well yes… they sent me videos of how they were having it there and I was sad.
The people who are now in La 72 have left their homes because of a need, which in many cases turns into life or death. Although the guests at La 72 have this on their minds, being in the company of family and loved ones is one of the things that is most is longed for. In a talk in the dining room, some people commented on the following:
C- It hurts not to be with your family at this time, but there is another family here, those who are here are always considered family, after living together for so long.
J- Yes it is a happy time but not as happy as one would like; it is not the same to have your mother with you as it is to be with a person you met along the way. We have no other choice, we cannot return, if we could choose, we would like to be with our families.
Throughout the different spaces of La 72, you can hear people sharing their memories of how the festivities had been the previous year. They recount these times with emotion and special joy. Some cannot contain their smile and in other cases their eyes filled with tears.
I spent it with my family, with my mommy, who is the one I miss the most … I miss her a lot. This year I had a good time but I was also very sad. Spending Christmas without my mommy, this was what I felt the most, like she was waiting for me during these days, and well, yes, they sent me videos of how they were spending it there and I was sad.
In Honduras, on the 24th, you go to the neighbor, to the family and they offer you food. It could be chicken, a sandwich, or whatever you want, with the neighbors, if you get along with them. If they make tamales they send them to you; if they make torrejas, they send those. If they make squash in honey, they also send them.That’s what they do at Christmas there, there are always tamales. We miss tamales a lot this Christmas.
With the family there is more atmosphere. Children come home and mother is happy. They are always happy because you are there. Christmas comes on the 24th and everyone gives a Merry Christmas jug, and everyone is very happy. The 31st is also very nice, saying farewell to the old year, and at midnight we hug each other, very happy to receive the new year. We all receive calls, and we party until dawn.
Some memories are revived when they think about why they left…
Last Christmas was more or less okay, but there was no work. We didn’t have much. Sometimes, one worries more about the children, they are the ones who need clothing and they rejoice in receiving gifts. But when there is no money, nothing is bought for them, so it is very complicated. And now, we can’t even get together with relatives, so it is worse since the COVID began. Let’s just say it is very difficult because one is far from one’s relatives, does not live with them, and the custom in Honduras to live with our relatives.
Despite the nostalgia for loved ones, hope and faith is shared as we celebrate together.
Christmas at La 72 …
The atmosphere here was nice, I liked the karaoke, and the food they made here was good. We had a good time, it was delicious. I had fun. The only thing different is that you are not with your family. In my case, it is the first time that I leave my family, my children, the first time in my life. They have always spent it with me and with my mother.
The party here is fine, right, but there is no way to spend it with our family members. We are usually with friends, looking at the fireworks. Here, we are having fun, but it is not the same. One has to adapt.
Although for some people leaving home was never in their plans, it only remains to hope for the best, below, some wishes of the people who will be staying in La 72 in 2021
I ask God to give me my humanitarian visa quickly to leave, because one leaves their country with the inspiration to work and have a better life, to achieve my goals.
My wish is to spend a Christmas there in Honduras with my family, bring money, a lot of money, more than I now have.
We have come here and the truth is that one comes here with a purpose to change the situation in which your relatives live, to improve their circumstances. I came to help my mother finish her house. My purpose is to get to a place where I can earn money and build my house so that my child does not suffer, so my son can move forward in his life, and that the following Christmas will be more beautiful.
Well, my wish is to be able to help my mother, I am doing everything possible to build a house for her, Sometimes I start to think that if I am here and something happens to her, I will regret it, if I’m not around I’m not going to be able to say goodbye to her, that’s hard for me.
We all hope for a better year than the one that has passed, that the next one will be better, that we won’t be in need. Sometimes one has spent Christmas without even anything to eat. I have spent Christmases where the children are waiting for their presents, maybe a little suit, because that in Honduras they like to show off their new clothes. Sometimes you don’t even have food, let alone money for new clothes for the child to show off. And all that makes you sad.
My goal is to help my family and most of all my daughters. I want to send them money to build their home, to arrange a better life for them. One is not eternal and one makes a sacrifice in search of a better life, all for the children. One can help because in Honduras there is a lot of poverty.
The end of the year is a very special date because one leaves behind everything bad that happened in the year, we just have to thank God that we are still alive, we want to say to the people who read this, that this is a difficult path. Leaving your family in your country, of course you come with a purpose, to help them, but it is difficult. What I can tell people is that we never lose faith and because of our goals, we continue forward.
Those who are with their family know how to enjoy this. Now for those of us who are not with our family is, it is difficult. Sometimes we would like to be with our family and we cannot.
It is very difficult to take this journey. There are people who arrive and there are those who do not arrive. And sometimes they return back to your country dead, just for having sought out a better life. They start out and then in time, maybe someone kidnaps them. And if they do not carry money or proof that they have relatives in the United States, they kill them. It is difficult to take this path. It is very sad because one goes out with the purpose of raising their family, and it is complicated because one does not expect death on this road.
This is a very hard road and more than that, well for me it is hard because I am traveling alone with my daughters. It is hard for me because there are times when they start to scare me but I stay ahead, one should not give up. Those are my thoughts, with God’s help all things are possible.
Voices of some of the people who live in La 72 Migrant and Refugee Shelter
Redacted by Alejandra Conde Molina
* If you want to know a little more about Christmas in La 72 you can see the celebration: