Just 1 at a Time

Manuela & Marco

Just One Pause at a Time

Whenever an INS application is delayed or denied, or a shipment of donations is held at the border, we are saddened and angered. And yet, we are more determined to move forward, redoubling our efforts through One Story at a Time.

And so it is with Manuela and her brave little boy, Marco, who fled to the border looking for safety and peace and healing for Marco, who had too many health problems for anybody, much less for such a young soul.

He did not survive. Marco died recently, the result of complications from all those conditions. The doctor couldn’t believe he had lived as long as he did with no additional medical help. Which does not make us any less crestfallen. Our hearts ache for his mother Manuela and his sister Carmen, who now has no little brother.

While we pause in memory of little Marco, we do not stop. Because there are too many stories—of striving people, of abuse, of overcrowded shelters—in need of financial contributions, material donations, and a common and mutual campaign to reconnect with our dignity.

Let Marco’s struggle motivate you into solidarity with our campaign.

Manuela is from Chihuahua, where she grew up. Manuela’s first language is Nahuatl. Her roots are Indian and she speaks Spanish, though her accent makes it evident that she is not fluent. Her beauty and innocence, as well as her suffering, can be reflected in her eyes.

She married Carlos when she was 16 years old. They had a baby girl, Carmen. When she started a life with Carlos, she knew he drank but did not know the extent. He became violent when drunk and taking drugs. The domestic violence began. Manuela once went to the Public Ministry to denounce him; when she returned he asked her to forgive him and convinced her that he would change.

Carlos did not let her work, and so she was always at home, taking care of her baby girl. His work in construction was irregular. They had food when he had a job, though he would also spend their money on alcohol or drugs, followed by periods of no income.

Marco was born seven years after Carmen, and he had several health conditions, including gastroschisis, arthrogryposis, clubfoot, and a congenital hip dislocation. Manuela suffered a lot. He would even blame her and the biting would not stop. Manuela’s parents, poor campesinos (peasant farmers), encouraged her to migrate and find better opportunities in a northern Mexican state, where Manuela’s sister-in-law lived.

On arriving there, Manuela found a job in a restaurant and starting taking Marco to the doctors at the general hospital for diagnosis and help. She stayed in this town for a year. As Manuela was living in his sister’s house, Carlos remained in contact with her, and he continued to threaten her. (

Manuela fled, hoping Carlos would never find her again. She moved to a shelter in a border town. Her parents supported her and told her that they would keep Carmen while she took care of Marco.

So far, she only has a number for a first interview by a migration officer at the port of entry. Due to the pandemic, Manuela does not know when or if the system will move forward again to give her the opportunity to be heard.

Compounding the situation: after Marco died, Carlos took Carmen from Manuela’s parents and took her to Canada; now Manuela is trying to make her way to Canada to recover her daughter.


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