Rise From The Ashes

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By: Marianela Reynado

It was February 2013. I saw my neighbor, a bald man (a man we called "El Pelon", which translates in English to "The Fear") shoot and kill a man near my home outside the market. Here is when my nightmare started.

A few weeks later, El Pelon saw me in the street and called me "b*tch" and asked for money. One night I went to the market to buy tortillas. This guy often sat on the stairs outside my building. He grabbed me by the neck when I walked by and pushed me against the wall. He said I should not open my mouth because if I did, the same thing that happened to the man he killed would happen to me. He said he knew where I lived and knew my family.

After that day I became like a little mouse trying to escape from a cat. He starting to abuse in different way from me. I had a normal life back home. But unfortunately, that day I was in the wrong place, and saw things that I didn’t want to see. I know he wanted to harm me not only because I saw him murder but also, he knows I am a woman, and cannot defend or protect myself against him.

My country, El Salvador, is one of the most dangerous countries for women. Last year there were 460 femicides. That means every 18 hours a woman was murdered because of her gender. I never thought to come this country, but I am here trying to save my kid’s life and mine.

I have been through many difficult things. After being homeless with my two kids I set many goals for my life. I have achieved many things like having a full-time job, having a safe place for my kids, getting my own transportation, being at college and getting excellent grades.

However, it has been so difficult because I am the only person responsible for the expenses for my family. And now I must pay a lawyer to help me in my asylum case. This semester, I really wanted to take two class, but I had to drop off one of them because I didn’t have the money to pay for it.

I think education should be accessible to all human beings. Unfortunately, our reality is different. It hurts a lot when you must stop your studies because you cannot afford it. I am a college student enrolled in the Hopkins House ECLI and I am working to earn a college degree. To get the ECLI Fellowship means a lot for me. It means that I can keep dreaming and that my two kids will have a better future.


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