De Este Oakland....El Viaje de dos pobres madres (From Guatemala..From East Oakland .. The journey of two poor mothers)

root - Posted on 21 April 2007

Two women, both mothers, both very low-income, both on a journey for a better life, una vida mejor, for themselves and their families. One begins in East Oakland, Califas... the other in Guatemala...
A Bi-lingual Global Local Poverty Report...

Two women, both mothers, both very low-income, both on a journey for a better life, una vida mejor, for themselves and their families. One begins in East Oakland, Califas... the other in Guatemala...
A Bi-lingual Global Local Poverty Report...


by Vivian Hain & Ingrid De Leon/PNN Digital Resistors, welfareQUEENs

Editor's Note;As a poverty scholar born in this stolen land referred to as the US, i have been intrigued by the so-called first world - third world paradox, how in fact, poor folks, poor mothers and fathers living in the dog eat dog capitalist US reality actually experience many of the same conflicts, struggles and crises as our third and fourth world sisters and brothers. Coupled with globalization, free trade, false border enforcement, the natural and unnatural disaster of Katrina and their effects on poor folks and finally, the push to have a larger and larger underpaid and undereducated class of workers on the move, it clearly points out that the differences between us as poor folks all over the world are under the gun of survival are getting fewer and fewer. All of these realizations spurred the launch of POOR's global/local poverty dot connection study in POOR Magazine's Race, Poverty and Media Justice Institute

Vivien Hain, from East Oakland

My name is Vivien Hain, originally gentrified out of Frisco then homeless for four years, then housed in the projects in East Oakland. I am a very low-income, xicana mother of three and this is my story of a move outta East Oakland to Berkeley.

It was five years after I had put my name on a waiting list for an affordable housing program in Berkeley…. I never thought I would ever see the day come when I’d get the call, telling me that my name had come up next on the waiting list. I thought to myself: “At last”, after being homeless then living in public housing for nearly five years in one of East Oakland’s most volatile neighborhoods where shootings happen almost daily.

For the next few weeks, I would go back n’ forth with the housing manager of the affordable housing program in Berkeley, yet I refused to get my hopes up that I would actually ever get housing there. I didn’t want to believe it. I was in total denial. Life itself had really beaten me down for the past eight years. So many terrible things had happened to me in the last two places we had lived in and every time there was an opportunity to get safe and clean affordable housing, it either wouldn’t work out or the waiting list was closed.

But this time it did… I got the affordable housing in Berkeley! I was so overjoyed! I cried in disbelief, but deep down inside, I still refused to truly believe it. Maybe I had some type of post-traumatic stress disorder from living in those two places where I had many bad experiences, including being a victim of crime and violence.

I was so happy, yet scared… I was scared of rejection after building up so much hope. I didn’t want to be let down again, forced to tell my children that we would have to continue living in timeless adversity inside of a sealed empty box, never to get out. I felt trapped inside a mental limbo, unable to realize that I was leaving 85th Avenue... The next day, I slowly began packing my life into several ‘unsealed empty boxes…’

Moving… Yes, moving can be tremendous for anybody, even those with material means to move, but try moving when you are very low-income… I sure found out quickly what an extreme hardship it was, as the next few weeks were a trying experience of my own sanity. At first, I didn’t realize how difficult moving all the way from East Oakland to Berkeley would actually be on a monthly welfare check of $723.00 with three kids. Most importantly, I didn’t take into account the immense emotional toll it would all have on me.

For the next few weeks, my emotional state went on a wild roller coaster ride, going up slowly and coming down fast. I began to feel extreme anxiety and a rush of adrenalin like a fleeing animal running through a windstorm. For the first few days, I drove throughout North Oakland and Berkeley, pillaging garbage cans for empty cardboard boxes. Then, I began endlessly driving packed boxes and small furniture in my little car to the new apartment in Berkeley. I must have made about 30 car trips moving items, because I don’t own a credit card, which prevented me from renting a moving truck. I also felt very vulnerable and alone, yet I persevered, kept going, kept packing… I wanted more than anything in the world to get my kids out of that sealed empty box forever...

The one thing that I couldn’t overcome so easily was the emotional trauma the move had upon me. For the first few days in the new apartment, I felt very anxious and paranoid. It was too quiet, too still… I couldn’t believe that a place could be without constant noise and disturbance. No more screeching cars… No more yelling and fighting… No more drug transactions outside… No more constant sirens screaming… No more helicopters reverberating overhead… No more loud music booming into my apartment… No more insane buzzing from the gamblers with their remote controlled cars outside… No more gunfire in the night…. three rounds, four rounds, sometimes six… Now, I lay at night in my new room only to hear the sound of trains and boats in the distance… Quiet footsteps passing by… Then, silence… Yet, I still feel nervous, anxious… Sometimes paranoid, as I unpack my life, leaving behind unsealed empty boxes and memories…

Vivien Hain, de East Oakland

Mi Nombre es Vivien Hain, originalmente desalogada de San Pancho, despues de estar sin hogar por cuatro años, despues estado en vivienda publica en el Este de Oakland. Tengo un bajo salario y soy una madre xicana de tres hijos y esta es mi estoria de mi mudanza del Este de Oakland a Berkeley.

Havian pasado cinco años, que avia puesto a mi y a mi tres hijos en la lista de espera para una vivienda accesible en Berkeley…. Nunca pense que el dia llegara cuando recibiriera la llamada, diciedome que mi turno en la lista de espera avia llegado. Y pense “por fin” despues de aver vivido sin casa por tres años y medio enfrente de una tienda vieja sin agua y despues estado en vivienda publica por casi cinco años en el Este de Oakland, uno de los barrios mas volatiles, donde hay disparos casi diario.

Por las proximas semanas, yo seguiria aquí y alla con el manager del programa de vivienda accesible en Berkeley, y no queria alzar mis esperasas que iva a recibir vivienda alli. No lo queria creer. Estaba totalmente negandolo. La vida misma me avia golpeado duro en los ultimos ocho años. Muchas cosas terribles me avian pasado a mi en los ultimos dos lugares que havia vivido y cada ves que avia una oportunidad para agarrar vivienda accesible limpia y segura, no funcionaba o la lista de espera estaba cerrada.

Pero estaves si funciono… y me dieron vivienda accesible en Berkeley! Estaba tan emocionda! Y llore sin todavia creerlo, pero dentro de mi si lo creia. A la mejor tenia un tipo de trastorno por estrés postraumático de vivir en esos dos lugares donde tuve muchas malas experiencias, incluyendo crimenes y violencia.

Estaba tan feliz pero tambien con miedo…. Tenia miedo de ser rechazada despues de tener tanta esperanza. No queria que me negaran otra ves, forzada a contarle a mis hijos que teniamos que continuar a vivir en una caja basia y cerrada por una eternidad. Me sentia atrapada, y sin realizar que iva a dejar la avenida 85…. El proximo dia, empeze a empacar lentamente mi vida en varias cajas vasias.

Mudandonos… si, mudarse puede ser tremondo para cualquier persona, hasta para esos con los materiales para mudarse, pero tratar de mudarse cuando tienes un salario muy bajo…me di cuenta que es una extrema difucultad y las proximas semanas fueron una experiencia tratando de mantener mi propia sanidad. Primero no me di cuenta que dificil era mudarse desde el Este de Oakland hasta Berkeley en un cheke de asistencia mensual de $723.00 con tres hijos. Mas importante, no tome encuenta el costo inmenso emocional que tendria en mi.

Por la proximas semanas, mi estado emocional fue como una loca montaña rusa, yendo despasio para arriba y rapido para abajo. Yo empeze a sentir anxiedad extrema y una infusion de adrenalina como un animal corriendo por una tormenta de viento. Por lo primeros dias, maneje por todo el norte de Oakland y Berkeley buscando cajas de carton basias en los basureros. Despues, empeze a manejar cajas llenas sin parar y muebles en mi carro chiquito al nuevo apartamento en Berkeley. Hice como unos 30 viajes en carro moviendo mis cosas. Por que no tengo una tarjeta de credito, que me prevenio de rentar una camioneta de mudanza. Tambien me senti vulnerable y sola, pero yo preserve y segui empacando…. Queria mas que nada en el mundo que mis hijos salieran de esa caja basia para siempre…

La unica cosa que no podia sobrepasar tan facilmente fue el trauma emocional que la mudansa tuvo sobre de mi. Por los primeros dias en el nuevo apartamento, me senti anxiosa y con paranoia. Era tan callado y muy calmado… no podia creer que el lugar podia estar sin ruido constantemente y disturbios. Sin ruidos de carros,… no mas gritos y peleas… no mas intercambios de drogas afuera… no mas sonidos de sirenas … no mas helicopteros por encima del techo… no mas musica tan fuerte entrando a mi apartamento…no mas ruido por los taures con sus carros de control remoto…no mas disparos en la noche…tres tiros…cuatro tiros…hasta aveces seis… Ahora me duermo en la noche en mi nuevo cuarto a escuchar el sonido distante de los trenes y botes en la distancia….pasos muy despacios…y luego silencio… pero todavia me siento nerviosa, anxiosa… y aveces con paranoia, cuando estaba desempacando mi vida, dejando atrás cajas basias y memorias…

Ingrid Deleon De Guatemala

Mi nombre es Ingrid de Leon. Soy de Guatemala y esta es mi historia. Es la historia de mi viaje a los Estados Unidos. Me vine por que fui abusada sexualmente en mi pais.

De Guatemala a Mexico todo estaba bien. Pero todo cambio cuando llegamos a un pueblo que se llama Reinosa. Ivamos a cruzar la frontera a McAllen, Texas y luego a caminar hasta Houston. Con el coyote y otra gente dormimos en los cerros y cruzamos el Rio Bravo en la mañana. Cuando finalmente llegamos a McAllen, Texas nos tuvimos que quedar en una trailer muy sucio. Durante el camino el proximo dia paramos para comer y tomar agua y un hombre de Veracruz me dijo, “quien viene contigo?” yo le dije que nadie. El se sonrio y dijo “hagamos el amor y yo te voy a cuidar.” Yo le dije que no necesitaba su ayuda.

y seguimos caminado

Habiamos caminado por una hora y los que salieron mas tarde los agaro migracion entonces tubimos que regresar. Salimos el otro dia en la noche y ese hombre de Veracruz me queria besar y un senor llamado Jaime dijo “no le hagas nada a mi sobrina” y ese hombre se enojo y dijo “me la vas a pagar.”

Y seguimos caminamos

Caminamos toda la noche al lado contrario de la luna y caminamos luego todo el dia. En la tarde dividieron la comida y el agua y a mi no me dieron porque el que dividio la comida era el hombre que me abuso. Yo le dije al coyote y el dijo “dale algo a la muchacha.” Entonces el agarro 2 tortillas, las escupio y dijo te dije que me hiba a vengar estupida y melas tiro, yo le dije “el estupido eres tu, tu cometelas” y se las tire en la cara y me puse a llorar y algien me dio agua

y seguimos caminando y caminamos esa noche

Y el dia sigiente ya no podia mas, yo lla no aguantaba caminar tenia mucha sed. Finalmente nos reuniremos con el otro grupo y yo me senti feliz y pence que ya abiamos llegado al final. Nos sentamos todos a descansar pero el coyote dijo “bueno senores lebantense porque todabia falta mucho” y muchos se pucieron a llorar y empezamos a caminar y yo sentia que mi corazon ya no podia palpitar. Y en la media noche vimos una luz el coyote dijo “miran esa luz?” todos dijimos “SI,” y el dijo “pues alli tenemos que llegar” pero esa luz estaba muy lejos.

Y seguimos caminando

Eran las 3 de la mañana y estabamos en una montaña cuando mis pies ya no se lebantaban de la tierra y mi corazon ya no aguantaba. Y yo les pedia a los que iban pasando a lado de mi “alludenme” y nadie me alludaba. Finalmente me cai y todos pasaban pisandome y el coyote decia “apurate pinche guera.”

Y ellos siguieron caminando

Ellos me dejaron, pero yo pense que dios me ayudaria y yo pedi ayuda, “ayudame, y dame fuerza; y no dejes que mis hijos se queden sin madre.” Despues vi la luna y eschuche una voz decir. “parate y corre.” Entonces yo me pare y ya no sentia dolor y corri y corri y hasta que los alcanze. Y el coyote me vio y me dijo “yo pense que los animales te ivan a comer” Y esa es la historia de mi viaje a los Estados Unidos.

Ingrid Deleon from Guatemala

My name is Ingrid de Leon. I’m from Guatemala and this story is my story. It’s the story of my trip to the United States. I came because I was sexually abused in my country.

From Guatemala to Mexico everything was going well. But everything changed when we reached a town called Renoisa. We were going to cross the boarder to McAllen, Texas and then walk to Houston. With the coyote and other people we slept in the hills and crossed the Rio Bravo the next morning. When we finally reached McAllen, Texas we had to stay in a very dirty mobile home. During our walk the next day we stopped for food and water a man from Veracruz asked me, “Who came with you?” “No one,” I said. He smiled and said, “Let’s make love and I will take care of you.” I told him I didn’t need his help.

And we walked on.

We had walked for an hour but the others were caught by the border patrol and so we had to go back. We left the next night and the man from Veracruz wanted to kiss me. But a man named Jaime said, “Don’t do anything to my niece.” But this made the man from Veracruz very angry with me and he said, “You’re gonna pay for this”.

And we walked on.

We walked all night against the direction of the moon and we walked the whole next day. In the afternoon they divided the food and the water, but I didn’t get any because it was the man that harassed me that divided the food. I told the coyote and he said, “Give some to the girl.” So, the man grabbed two tortillas, spit on them, and said, “I told I would get you back idiot”. And I said, “You’re the idiot—you eat them,” and I threw them in his face. I started to cry and someone gave me water.

And we walked on. We kept walking and we walked all night.

And the next day I couldn’t make it anymore, I couldn’t walk and I was very thirsty. Finally we met with the other group and I felt very happy because I believed we had come to the end. We all sat down relived, but the coyote said, “Well senores, get up because we still have a long way to go”. Many of us started to cry and we started walking and I felt that my heart would no longer beat. At midnight we saw a light and the coyote asked, “Do you see that light?” “Yes,” we all said. He said, “Well, that’s where we have to go”. But that light was very far.

And we walked on.

It was 3 in the morning and we were on a mountain when my feet would not move from the earth and my heart could not longer endure. I was asking the people that were passing by me, “Help me” and nobody would. Finally I fell and everyone was stepping on me and the coyote said, “Hurry up you fuckin’ guera.”

And they all walked on.

They all left me, but I thought that god could help me and I asked for help. “Help me,” I said, “and give me strength; don’t allow my kids to live without a mother.” Then I saw the moon and I heard a voice say, “Get up and run.” So I got up and I could feel no pain and I ran and ran and I found them. The coyote looked at me and said, “I really thought that the animals were going to eat you.”


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