My work starts at 8 in the morning. I sweep the floor, and sweep the sidewalk in front, so that this place is clean and with dignity, so that the migrants can come and be happy here when they enter the Comedor. I’m the one who does the maintenance, the painting, I clean the toilets, I fix the bathrooms. I like my job. All I want is safety for the migrants here. Here I’m guarding the door. This is my job. It feels really good, I’m in charge of the door to keep this a safe place for the migrants. Saying no to somebody who is not a migrant, denying them food, feels really bad.
Service and help
The corn is ours, our harvest and the name is really clear: “MAIS”: “Movimiento Indígena Alternativo y Social” (Alternative and Social Indigenous Movement). Is what I have always said: this movement is not only for indigenous people but for every social field and everything it involves: afro-americans, peasants, Yanaconas (indigenous people). Because it has been clear for a long time: if we are not united, next wars are not going to be for land but for water, that’s why we need to be united.
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.
These are four women, all from Casa Latina, at the Martin Luther King Day March… They’re all holding hands together, the four of them, like struggling together. It was a nice picture, as part of the march and in solidarity. That made me proud of my colleagues here at Casa Latina, with their strong will, that we can all keep on moving forward together.
This march was on Martin Luther King day. There have been other marches that I have participated in. And I like to be active, to let it be known who I am. I also participated in the march in 2006, and last year, when I was detained in the immigration detention center in Tacoma, I participated in the hunger strike. I share what some of the leaders here at Casa Latina say: “we have to be part of the battle for the rights of Hispanics.” It’s not just about me. It’s for the others too. Maybe I won’t get what I want individually.
The march is important so that the government can listen to us. What we want is to work honestly, to bring our bread home for our families, be it here or away, to send some money to the family in Mexico or wherever they are. And each one, each head is a whole world and we’re all thinking about the same thing. We’re all thinking about work.
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.