Paola’s mother became pregnant at a young age and was abandoned by her partner. As a single mom, she devoted her life to Paola, working in restaurants and cleaning houses to earn a living. She knew the fate of older kids in Honduras as they entered middle school—boys joined gangs, sold drugs, and kidnapped girls for trafficking.
She sent Paola to a private school, believing it would keep her daughter safe. She was wrong. One day, as Paola got off the bus, a gang of men threw her into a van and forced her to drink something, causing her to lose consciousness.
She woke up at a bus station the next day, terrified and injured. In her pocket, she found an envelope with a note demanding that she pay the assailants a weekly fee or else they would kill her and her mother. To make the point crystal clear, there was a bullet in the envelope.
Paola was taken to a hospital and did not return to school. Severely anxious and depressed, she was paralyzed by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2018, fearing for their safety, mother and daughter crossed the border into Mexico and pleaded for asylum. Paola had not kept the letter from the thugs and was denied asylum due to a “lack of proof.”
We have since found them a safe place to live in Tijuana and both work low-wage jobs to survive, but Paola deserves more than this. She dreams of becoming an interpreter and working at the United Nations. Incredibly determined, she has already taught herself Vietnamese.
Truly impressed with this young woman’s courage and resilience, we want to help Paola and her mother secure permanent residence in Mexico and enable Paola to attend university.