We sat across from each other with some coffee and some appetizers. It was noon, I could tell she was nervous to speak about her life mostly since I had mentioned that I would be asking her about her traumatic experience. I let her know that if she was more comfortable doing this interview in Spanish we could. Most of the quotes will be translated into English, since my writing in Spanish isn’t the best.
I started by asking her where she was raised and if she had any vivid memories from when she lived there. She mentions how in her hometown, Guanajuato, when she was younger she would go to the patinerama (skaterama) which was a park where people would skate. Every weekend with family and friends she would go.
“But one of my favorite memories and places I miss is the fair.” The fair would occur every year, she has always loved carnival rides and the food local vendors would sell. “My parents would always give my sister and I money to go with our friends and friends.” The way she described the fair seemed like a fun atmosphere, even better than the local fairs we have here.
I asked if she ever thought of coming to America when she was young, she answered no, because at the time she had everything she ever wanted. As she grew up she realized her goal in becoming more independent would be difficult, mostly living in Mexico where the economy and government wasn’t the best. Once she realized she was pregnant her husband and her realized they wouldn’t be able to give their child a better future if they stayed, so they decided to leave. “I couldn’t see myself bringing my child into the life I had with little opportunities, so we took a risk and came to America.”
She was nervous to leave but she knew deep down it would be the best for her family. Her experience crossing over was better than most, it took about 2 days. She remembers it being very cold at night and the hunger she had. “At night we were walking, I couldn’t see anything. I tripped on a rock and fell about 5 ft, on my pregnant belly. I was about 3 months pregnant.” Her husband immediately helped her up and checked to see if she was fine. She was worried for her baby and prayed the baby wasn’t hurt. She continued her way through the night till she arrived in California.
She arrived in Redwood City because her husband had a family there which could help them settle down for a while until they had enough money for their own place. “I felt out of place, I knew no one and only knew Spanish.” She felt like an outsider due to the lack of knowledge of the language. At the same time her being pregnant didn’t help her, it was more difficult for her to get a job.
The first 2 months were normal, just trying to figure out what to do and trying to find a job. But by the third month “I was assaulted by a woman, I was outside and out of nowhere she started attacking me, I ran to my house and she broke in.” The woman destroyed all the windows. She called the police but they ignored her. “They helped her, left me there scared.” Charlett (name changed) started to tear up, I asked if she would like to stop. She said no, she was fine. She took a deep breath and sipped her coffee. “Some neighbors yelled at the police and paramedics, telling them I was pregnant and that they should help me, but they didn’t.”
I asked how her relationship since then has been with the police. With a very serious tone she tells me she can’t trust them. “After that interaction with them I was scared. I couldn’t even step outside, when the police would come to try and get my statement I would hide under the bed and not meet them.” Till this day she mentions it’s been difficult trying to trust them. She tried to stay out of trouble so she doesn’t have to deal with them.
I asked her if she regretted coming to the United States. “Oh No, because I feel like I have given a great future and opportunities to my children. The life of my children is here and I could not see myself giving them a life in Mexico.” She explains how overall she made the right choice for her family. In this country her family is safe and has more freedom. Back in Mexico she would have never been able to give her children the opportunity the United States has given them.
The interview and writeup were done by a family friend who is a student.