The fact that I am part of the same situation is what pushes and motivates me. When there is a woman who approaches and talks to me about her situation. I am with her because of her personal situations as a migrant in the country. I understand her because I’m there too. It is not the same thing being on the other side when fighting for immigrants because in every circumstance, you are in the same situation and for this reason, you will fight more strongly.
This picture is of boats in my town. I rode one of these boats to cross the sea to come here. I remember the moment when I hopped onto one of those boats in order to leave my town and come come here.
Esta foto es de los barcos en mi pueblo. Yo viajé en uno de esos barcos para cruzar el mar para venir aquí. Recuerdo el momento en que me subí a uno de esos barcos para salir de mi pueblo y venir aquí.
This last picture is of a stone with the word “BELIEVE.” Every day, I carry it with me in my bag. When I leave home, I have it in my coat. I have to believe in myself. I have to believe in life. I have to believe in others. I have to believe in so many things… things that I want to fight for, because if you fight with faith, then you can accomplish things. Faith is something that I want to maintain because I am a human being. Weakness will make you vanish. With faith and hope, one can keep moving forward.
For me, the pigeon that is taking off to fly is me, because I feel that I cannot allow anybody to cut my wings… in any circumstance. In life, we have to try to fly so we can accomplish our goals, both personal and professional. For this, you need to have faith and hope that you will accomplish them. I remember that my mom used to say, ‘children are not your own- you have to give them wings so they can fly off.’ I remember and carry with me my mom’s words. Those are very wise words. The words that parents tell you during your childhood and youth.
I wanted to smell the sand and the beach. I wanted to connect to that smell of the water, so I took my shoes and socks off because I wanted to put my feet on the sand and connect with the sand. I used to do this in my village. I felt that I was receiving all the energy of the sand. For a moment, I felt like I was free. It’s as if I was going back to the past, to how I was before I came to the US. When I take my shoes off and walk on the sand, I feel freedom.
About 15 years ago, I came into the country with a tourist visa. I am now able to work because I have a work permit. Somebody was helping me with my legal documentation for residency but it turned out he was a fraud. I am now again doing the paperwork. This is why I cannot leave the country, I would not be able to come back in.
There is not a single day that goes by where I do not think about getting my permanent residency. This picture shows how I feel about the service of the immigration and citizenship. I feel that is a very unjust service. It’s a service that plays with the life and feelings of human beings… It is just politics playing with the feelings of human beings. They hurt you as if you were an enemy, so I am annoyed to think that there is a service that is supposed to be serving the laws and the people. I feel indignation.
I advocate for the rights of immigrants in this country. I travel around the country to do demonstrations, marches and carry the voice of the people with whom I work. I’m in the same situation as many of them. Why do I do this? I have the strength to keep on struggling for myself and my own rights. It is not the same to be fighting for immigrants if you are in the same situation. For this reason, you will fight harder.
I get hope from this tree. I was trying to connect with it, to absorb its energy. The fruit of my work is to positively impact someone. I have made many changes in the life of the women that I work with. For me, it is huge when people tell me ‘Gilda, you cannot imagine what you have done with my life’. I will continue believing in myself and in what I do.
For the past 2 years, I have been going to this church. Before I finally went, I heard a lot about this church. Once I discovered it, I was attracted by the many migrants that go there. I go there to meet other people, so I can become involved in the community. One thing is to work, while another thing is the congregation. Also, it is so the church takes me into consideration within the community.