the Struggle

I am really struggling.

I don’t think I am alone, either.

Jackelin Amei Rosemary Caal Maquin, the 7-year old identified by the Washington Post as having died in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last week is on my mind.

Jackelin was for me the breaking point and the constant in my head yesterday as I watched children line up to pet the reindeer and ask Santa for iPhones. 

Santa later shared one asked for a college fund. 

The CBP blames Jackelin’s dad. They have explained how dangerous it can be to travel across the border – drug cartels, human trafficking, and the elements pose threats.

So, I ask myself, how dangerous was the life they were living? I wonder what sort of the threats lurked in their hometown in Guatemala.

I have been to Guatemala three times to work at an orphanage, Hope of Life International 

It’s not perfect. The country is not like ours. Each time my group was met at the airport by armed escorts, pistols tucked in their waistbands did not prevent them from hugging  us in greeting.

Even the gas stations we stopped at on our 3-hour drive into the Zapata region were manned by armed men standing out front. We passed many dwellings that would appear to be slightly larger than doghouses in the U.S. 

It is a different world, one where violence is accepted as part of the daily routine. What happens when someone has a child, a perfectly healthy and beautiful being that they wish could have the basics such as clean water and an education, but cannot find it in the village, town or city they have lived in? What do you do with that precious gift that seemed to drop out of heaven and into your life? 

I remember when I gave birth to my first son. I refused to drive on I-95 because I wanted to keep him safe.  You really want to protect that seemingly perfect gift, that child.

I thought about all of this yesterday as I watched the line of children grow and chatted with many who approached to pet the reindeer by my side.

Was Santa even an option for a family such as Nery Caal’s, Jackelin’s father. Could they afford the luxury of telling their children that an invisible figure would bestow gifts on each of them Christmas Eve? Did poverty prevent that fantasy? What would Jackelin have asked for if she could visit with Santa? Like any child, certainly she had dreams and wishes. 

As a country, do we really not care about poor children? Children born to poverty in violent societies? Or parents that just want safety? Isn’t that what every parent wants.

Photo of Jackelin Amei Rosemary Caal Maquin the 7 year old that died in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

What can I do? What have you done? I welcome suggestions. I just can’t believe this is acceptable. Certainly, our country is not as inhumane as this situation reveals. Or are we?

By Catstrav

Reindeer handler. NDT tech. Mother of four. Aspiring astronaut.

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