February 11, 2010
Please check out the new blog!
January 31, 2010
Jan 30, 2010
From Gainesville, Fl.
10 Reasons why I might be pregnant
- I am always hungry
- I am always craving ice cream- I wish I had some right now…
- I don’t fit into my pants anymore
- I have been hyper emotional lately
- I have swollen feet
- I have lower back pain
- My stomach is always making weird noises
- I have become slightly obsessive- compulsive
- I see a doctor once a month
- I haven’t gotten my period
Just a joke to lighten up the mood 🙂
January 31, 2010
January 28, 2010
I dedicate this blog to my family. I love you and miss you so much. I will fight to make sure our family and every family in this country stays united!
I celebrated my 25th birthday on January 28th. I can honestly say it was the best birthday of my life; I wouldn’t want to have celebrated it any other way.
On my birthday, I was reaffirmed that I have one of the most amazing families in the world. At 12:00 AM January 28th, 2010 we were all startled. We heard at a distance a man signing and playing the guitar. As I was getting ready to shower, I heard the singing of my father. Puzzled because it sounded too clear to come from a computer, I came outside to check it out. Once I got to the living room, Carlos and Felipe V. both looked at each other and asked what it was. It was my dad, outside Vickie’s house serenating me. What a surprise: my sister, her husband, Jose, and him drove all the way from Miami to Gainesville (a 27 day walk; a six hour drive) to see me and wish me a happy birthday. Profe, playing around, said “Wow, you must really love your daughter, if it was me, I would have just given her a call and said, Happy birthday Mija”
I woke up in the morning with hugs and kisses from everyone. It was my birthday and I was going to have a walking party!
We walked through a breath-taking prairie. Paynes prairie, has been one of the highlights of the walk. Florida is so beautiful and I am glad it has been my home for 17 years. http://www.floridastateparks.org/paynesprairie/
We arrived at a restaurant where my birthday hat was waiting for me. My hat was so beautiful -beyond my expectations. Four gifts dangled from the front, a green bow, and a banner across the rim said “Feliz Cumpleanios Gaby”. Thank you Rommy for coordinating this and thank you Fran and Robin for making my day. I walked with my hat and people made a point to look at it and say “happy birthday.”
Our next stop was UF. http://www.alligator.org/news/campus/article_caa1050c-0c90-11df-b55d-001cc4c03286.html We had the opportunity to speak to Assistant Provost, Mary Kay Carodine, and she seemed very receptive to our message. She even told Felipe M. that if he was still interested in attending UF to please contact her! We were in our comfort zone, students galore!!! We did classroom talks and went fliering and talking to students.
After dinner, we had a forum. I heard my voice maturing. I spoke about family, a topic that comes very natural to me. I shared about my own personal experience with ICE. People were on the edge of the seat when I told them that I too had experienced a raid. It was very difficult to share this story with people even though I have done it a dozen times. It still scares me and I relive it every time I tell it. Thank God it was my birthday though, at the end of the forum we had a birthday cake!
No matter where you celebrate birthdays, they are more festive and fun if you are doing something good in your life.
4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew [a] you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”
7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
January 28, 2010
January 27, 2010
Jan 26 Ocala, FL-
I dedicate today’s walk to an incredible young man named Alejo, for his courage and determination to fulfill his dreams despite all obstacles!
I have never quite understood what it means to be a Brazilian man who bears the traces of a very diverse culture in the USA until now. I have always been confused for something I am not. I’ve been called white, Cuban, and Colombian -to name simply a few of the many labels that have been ascribed to me. Friends and acquaintances could not understand why I had an accent to my Spanish and also managed to have a subtle foreign accent that nobody could quite distinguish its origin. I never really paid much attention to what that meant to me until I was engaged in the immigrant rights movement. I have felt that people who don’t speak Spanish as their first language many times are either misrepresented or pushed to the sidelines. Although we have to go through the same problems as everyone else, our voice is not regarded as relevant in the mist of the debate.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the richness of my first language- Portuguese. Its rhythm, tone, and the history it bears has intrigued me beyond my wildest expectations. I keep thinking of the slaves that were forcibly brought to the newly colonized land in South America around the 1600’s who, despite their chains, managed to shape the language and culture of a nation. I keep in mind the millions of Indigenous people killed and displaced of their lands that still found the ways to keep all of the names they had given to places across all of Brazil, despite the conscious attempt to erase their culture and the history of their struggle. I cannot deny that I even think back to the immigrants that came in the 1900’s seeking paradise, only to find poverty and struggle in their new home.
Their stories and DNA are part of me and run through every vein in my body. I am Indigenous, Black, Portuguese and German. I remember my late grandmother treating people of illnesses with herbs from the land. She understood that Earth had the answers and trusted it enough to always evade any doctors. Furthermore, I continue to be lured by the impact of beats and music in my culture, dating back to African drums and Indigenous practices. When I hear the beat of drums, my whole body instantly moves and my heart aligns itself to its rhythm.
However, this also means that I have more melanin in my skin than the majority of people that I have encountered in this walk. Today, when we were walking in Marion County, one of the many places in Florida that has a 287 (g) agreement with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) -agreements that deputize local police to function as ICE agents- I realized that I am quickly becoming darker due to the constant exposure I have to the sun –more so than most of my friends. Needless to say, the relationship between local police and ICE is very problematic especially because its enforcement has resulted in continuous cases of racial profiling. One of the people in the local area told me to be very careful because I look “immigrant”. I didn’t feel threatened, but was simply reminded, yet again, of what it means to be a brown person in the USA. I can finally comprehend the culture of fear that we have been subjugated to and how much I want to break free from it.
What does this fear mean to a young immigrant? The first thing that comes to mind is shame. I’ve dared myself to diverge from such thinking and thus become proud of my roots and the color of my skin. I tell myself that I am brown like delicious café con leche -a drink native to the South American Andes mountains, that I have been obsessed with since I was a small child. I am brown as the sweet dulce the leche that goes so well with different pastries. I am also brown like autumn and its ability to find resilience to maintain life beyond the harshest winters.
I am the proud son of a poor, single mother that barely had enough to provide for her children even tough she spent practically her whole life working three jobs as a maid. I know how it feels to not have material possessions and must say that poverty isn’t half as bad to children when they have love lavished upon them to fill their hearts. However, the bitter taste of injustice stays longer and it is the only thing that I am determined to eradicate from my life and the life of those I have come to love all around me and across this continent. The first step to change is becoming aware of our surrounding, then to create opportunities to change it forever. I dare everyone who reads this blog to be proud of their beginnings no matter how simple they were and to express their utmost pride for it, rather than continue to be melted into a pot that keeps telling us we must give up our identity and heritage to be more like everyone else.
January 25, 2010
January 23, 2010
Our walk is dedicated to the Roa family. To Peter, a United States Citizen who lived in New York city for 3 decades. For Carlos Sr., who bravely brought his family to the US to take care of his father, Peter -left in immigration limbo after his death while the petition was still pending. For Carlos Jr. who is currently in the struggle and walking 1,500 miles on their behalf, going on his 24th day walking now.
Our walk today is dedicated to three generations of brave men who lived in the United States trying, with all their might, to achieve a DREAM.
On one of the most recognized USA icons, the Statue of Liberty, has engraved on its plaque:
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This week, we were joined by a man from New York city who wanted to walk with us. He flew down on Friday and made arrangements for himself to walk with us for three days. It was a surprise when the person we thought might be a college student turned out to be a grown man, father of two, and successful business owner. I kept feeling it in my heart from the first time we talked about the Trail, that our struggles would be about all: the tired, poor, and all those who like us, want to be free.
After coming from a trip in Spain, Roberto came to his beloved NY and picked up the New York Times where he first learned about the Trail of DREAMs. After 26 years struggling without status, he had recently obtained his green card. Roberto wanted to walk with us because he understood personally what we have endured in this country, as individuals that have held an unwavering passion and commitment to a nation that barely even gave us a passing chance.
As we walked in pairs, Roberto walked with me and asked me to share with him my story. I told him I always felt like a was a cadged bird. Once, I was fine in the cage -it was still small and I had a little room to fly. However, now after fighting six years in the struggle, receiving several college degrees, and having had the opportunity of a fabulous job, my wings have grown too large and the cage began hurting me.
Tears ran down his cheeck because he knew exactly what I meant. The difference now was that he had found his freedom and the golden cage he lived in no longer had any bars. He no longer was restrained from doing what he loved and being afraid of people finding out his immigration situation, or more so, living afraid of being thrown out of the place he calls home.
Roberto came with his wife and one year old son looking for a better future in 1983. He’s first job was as a carpenter. Shortly after, he was able to open his own business. Even though he was successful and important to this country he was denied a green card nearly 10 times.
When I asked him how he felt about the Big Apple he said “It’s amazing, I love New York. It is one of the most amazing cities I know. You have all the choices in the world, theater, arts, music, public transportation, I can’t get enough of it”
How can we deny the existence of someone who loves this country so much and has tried several times to legalize his status. He said “I have a personal feeling towards it, its my home”
As we continue to head north, I hope people begin to have a deep analysis about why we are in the situation we are in. Are we willing to continue to suffer in this manner or will we take a stance today and fight for our promised words.
“I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.” –Psalm 101-1
January 25, 2010
January 25, 2010 (1:12 a.m. EST)
From Ocala, Fl.
It doesn’t matter what I do, I can never forget the day that Jose found out he had a deportation order, only weeks after he had been accepted to go to college -thinking all along that the broken immigration system could have kept him from being able to make it even THAT FAR.
I remember how I sat next to him and held the phone to my ear as the immgration department operator told me the news and I was afraid to even face him. I don’t know how I did it… I don’t know how I was ever able to raise my face or utter any words to him without crying. I don’t know how I didn’t die in that instant simply from the powerlessness that overcame me from thinking that I may never find the right way to help him and keep him safe.
How do we fall in love with people we barely even know? How could I feel so intrinsically intertwined with an individual I had barely shared a few conversations with?
I think back to all the poetry and prose I wrote as a teenager and how verses and lines served as a magnification of my daily reality. Its alarming to think that these lines no longer need to magnify anything at all, because its all so scathing as it stands on its own. Telling myself that: I didn’t really understand human rights until the moment I found the strength to raise my head to tell Jose this country wanted him deported… not even beleiving the words escaping my own breath; feeling that I could have treated him better in that moment by stabbing him with something.
Human rights made sense to me because it was perfectly clear that none of this needed to have to do with someone I knew for a long time, or someone I felt related to. Defending human rights is understanding that certain things should simply NEVER happen to anyone at all.
Perhaps… I was never supposed to tell you his story.
Perhaps I’m not supposed to mention that somewhere in the world, a 7 year old boy named Nicholas is crying to his mother because the family he was raised by is only accessible to him by pictures now. Not understanding what “customs enforcement” is supposed to mean, aside from simply PAIN.
Or that several mothers in Homestead are willing to stop eating and risk their very lives out of the conviction that perhaps only their personal sacrifice and suffering will be enough to reach the ears or desks of political figures that see us as no more than a number.
(What does 65,000 mean to YOU?)
I’m sure we’ve all been told that its safer to remain silent. That somehow, by simply writing this, I am putting my entire community at risk and thus should be censored or punished.
We do it to ourselves. We do it to each other.
When will we believe in ourselves enough to give ourselves and one another permission to be free? When will we accept that there is such a thing as existence outside of silence, fear, and violence?
There isn’t a SINGLE day to waste!
If you’re reading this, I hope you understand that I need you. I don’t mean it as Juan, the kid from Florida, whom you may have never met. I feel that in many ways, I write this because I need it for myself… Need to know these words exists and that they were set down in honesty to keep people pushing forward with conviction and courage, one step at a time to fulfill an honorable journey. I wish that you could write these very words to yourself so that perhaps you might actually hear it from someone from whom you are willing to listen:
How much longer are we truly willing to wait? I’ve been dreaming of an officer hand-cuffing a member of my family and telling me, “I am going to deport this person tomorrow. Will you wait another 6 months for congress to begin talking about immigration reform?”
That’s what’s happening… what keeps happening! And I just don’t understand why we keep telling ourselves that the best thing is to just keep waiting.
How many people are we willing to lose? WHO are you willing to give up next??? Will it be me? Will it be yourself? Is it still ok so long as the person that is taken is someone related to some other individual in a state you’ve never visited? Is it ok so long as it isn’t any of your friends or your own family?
Why does the safety of those we love depend on those who only seek to make more money or succeed in a re-election? Can we truly say they’re representing any of us? Can we truly say its in our name and our best interest?
Only you have the answers. I’m just a kid with a bunch of questions…
January 23, 2010
I would like to dedicate this blog to Maria Rodriguez and every woman in my life.
Tavares, FL– More than 250 miles into our walk the body has become used to the “abuse”. Imagine, everyday I have to wake up at 5 AM, because Juan doesn’t let me sleep until 5:30 AM like everybody else… then I get ready and leave to another amazing adventure. As Carlos mentioned, yesterday we had the opportunity to meet three incredible nuns from the Apopka Hope Center. They have been working with youth and social justice causes for several years.
At one point, Sister Ann asked me who had inspired my personal desire to fight. The first person that came to mind was Maria, the Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC). I have had the privilege to work closely with her while been part of FLIC. Maria always acted like one of the lakes we encountrered in the trail today. Many perceive them as tranquil and harmless, however, their enormous beauty and depth go beyond our understanding. Maria always spent every minute that we were together to challenge me and to help me to create a holistic counciousness about how to adress issues in the world and respond to current events.
The trail today was full of pleasant surprises and a few setbacks. We started walking on 441 today and later we were joined by the same high school students that accompanied us yesterday. Sonia, the person who gave us lunch today, helped us deliver a letter to Publix that we drafted in support of the Coalition of Imokelee Workers’ (CIW) campaign for fair wages for farmworkers. We did so to highlight one of our four core princinples for just and humane immigration reform -workers’ rights. When we set out to travel the 1,500 miles, we also wanted people to understand that our work is also valuable and must be respected.
The connection between us, those who are currently walking, and those who are in their community is that those who stayed behind have it much harder. When we said good-bye to the high school students that shared their hopes and fears we acknowledged that those who were working on the day to day basis will continue to impact them beyond our undestanding. For some reason, Maria believed in me and she felt that I could accomplish my dreams despite all obstacles. I’m not sure exactly what it was but I saw in Sister Ann’s eye the same gleam of hope I felt when I met Maria. They truly understand social change but most importantly; personal change. In the most difficult moments of the last few years I could count on Maria’s love and guidance. It’s because of people like Sister Ann and Maria that I trully feel that real change is possible.
January 22, 2010
1/21/2010 Apopka, Florida.
We began this morning walking just off the outskirts of Orlando. During our first stop at a local coffee shop to use the restrooms, while waiting for my turn, I could hear some of the employees behind the counter whispering and smiling to themselves. Immediately, I thought to myself that they must have seen us the day before on the local news channel. So I approached the counter and started explaining to them the walk. Soon enough they offered all six of us free coffee! They were so blown away with our courage and with our community efforts that they gave us $40 bucks in donations to the cause. I told Felipe it would be pretty awesome if we got that kind of greeting every place we walked into, because we definitely need the money.
Approximately, after walking five miles, we stopped around 11:00AM in order to go make a congressional visit and an interview. Yesterday, we visited the offices of a couple of House Representatives and Florida’s two Senators, Sen. LeMieux and Sen. Nelson (Read Juan’s Blog y/day). Gaby and Felipe went to do an interview with the local Univision channel, while Juan, Andrea, and I went to Rep. Mica’s office. That visit was rather short; nonetheless, it was productive as usual. Rep. Mica’s immigration advisor had a tough stance on immigration, but we were able to get her to understand that deporting millions is simply unrealistic.
After eating lunch at nearby park, we convened ourselves, and we headed out to the Hope Community Center in Apopka, FL. I was in complete surprise when we arrived to find so many young leaders from the community. Most of them are the teenage children of the local farmworkers in the area. I was so happy to know that at least these kids where fighting to get their voices heard and were representing their migrant communities. They were seriously challenging the fear of being undocumented. I never had that same opportunity in high school because I was so scared to tell anyone about my situation; mostly because I really didn’t know anyone else in my shoes. Their passion for human rights and their sheer energy excited us all. Afterwards, we began walking around 4:00PM with about 40 of those youth leaders. It was quite an amazing sight! We got car honks left and right, and a lot of laughter and joy from the experience.
At the end of the night, after dinner, we went to the house of the local nuns that manage the Hope Community Center to take showers. It was by far the highlight of the day. I have never sat down with Sisters in the struggle. Their perseverance for justice, solidarity with our cause, and funny sense of humor by far exceeded my expectations here in Apopka! I am especially sure that I am going to miss Sister Ann after we leave town. She is just such an amazing individual and it was a privilege to learn from them. It is always interesting to see people can make such an impact in the lives of so many people and transform entire communities.
January 21, 2010
January 20, 2010
From the Magic City, Orlando
Our walk is dedicated to Rita and her family, who fights to keep her family together.
A reporter asked me today about the most difficult experience I’ve had during the walk -I thought about: my family, boyfriend, students, friends and although it is hard to be without them honestly, the hardest thing is having to say goodbye everyday. Our walk, most of the time, ends in a stranger’s home.
We’ve had the privilege to find people who treat us like their children. They say the reason so many young children cry the first day of school is not because they are scared, rather it’s because they feel the parent’s sorrow in having to let go of their little one. When we first get there, there is always a great feast. Towels, socks, and blankets are plentiful. Advice, prayers, hugs and kisses are shared, but most importantly we receive tons of love. I was afraid of feeling alone and missing my family yet, in every town we have entered, I feel my family has extended. We are creating a more united community and are helping to develop a unified human race that does not discriminate against nationality, race or creed. Thank you to all those who have open their homes and have made thus far the Trail of DREAMs possible.
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’