Martha was brought to the United States illegally by her abusive and controlling husband. Now she is making a new life for herself and her children thanks to the help of El Pueblo. Her story is an inspiration.
Martha and her husband had two children, the only light in her dark life. She had no choice but to cross the border with him or he would have taken the children and left her in Mexico, alone. Her husband told her that she had to stay inside all the time or "la migra" (immigration) would get her. Whenever a car pulled into their parking space, she and the children hid in the bathroom with all the lights off and the shades drawn. She was given only enough money to buy exactly what groceries and other supplies he instructed her to get. After years of living in terror, suffering both physical and emotional abuse, her husband tried to kill her in a rage. A neighbor heard the commotion and called the police. They arrived in time to find her being held down by her husband in an upstairs bedroom with a knife to her throat. By the grace of God, in time to prevent her murder. Her 4-year-old son witnessed everything. Ever since that day, he sleeps with a knife under his pillow, in case his father should return to do them harm.
El Pueblo Immigration Legal Services was able to help Martha obtain a U-visa since she cooperated with police and testified against her husband. Last month, Martha's U-visa was approved and she now has authorization to work in the United States for four years. After three years, she will apply for permanent resident status. What does this mean to Martha? "El Pueblo gave me a light of hope for my children all that time when we were suffering...I give thanks to God for this opportunity which they have given me and I won't waste it. For my children, today, I have the desire to move ahead and leave that nightmare behind me."
Martha is only one of the many immigrants that The Village El Pueblo helps. We currently have a case load of 22 domestic abuse cases. Immigrants come for help with their immigration paperwork. Since January we have opened another 48 immigration cases. Each one of them is a real person with a real family, all seeking the American dream. Without the help of El Pueblo Immigration Legal Services they would have to pay very high fees to private attorneys or, more likely, they would not be able to afford any legal help.
Project SafeSpace is another project of The Village El Pueblo. Here the doors are open to all those in need of a place of welcome and refuge with day services to the houseless, creating a community of hospitality that empowers them to live lives of purpose, dignity and service. Our SafeSpace community includes American veterans who have put their own lives in danger so that we all might live in freedom and security, as well as others who have been devastated by medical bills, family tragedy and economic hard times. Through Project SafeSpace we all can share our gifts to provide immediate needs, meals, clothing, showers, laundry facilities, and to encourage self-sufficiency and self-worth through resource referral, life skills resources, support groups, opportunities for service and avenues of spiritual growth.
Last year we sent out our appeal with a goal of $100,000. Thanks to the generosity of many of you, we reached a total of $39,760. We appreciate your support so much but, unfortunately, it wasn't enough. Thanks to some generous corporate donations and grants from foundations we were able to limp along, still providing the most essential services. However, when two of our staff left to pursue other opportunities we were not able to replace them. Reduced from a staff of 5 to a staff of 3½, we continue to provide high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services. We continue to serve the homeless. But English classes, our women's support group, and our annual Sabor de las Americas festival all had to be put on hiatus.
We go forward in faith, trusting that in 2011 you will make it possible for The Village El Pueblo to continue and even expand back to our former capacity. Without you we cannot continue in this work. Our goal is $100,000. Please consider sending us a gift of $10, $25, $50, $100 or more to move The Village El Pueblo into the new year on a sure financial footing. If you cannot give that amount, even the smallest gifts add up! As always, at the approach the Christmas season, we reflect on Mary and Joseph, forced to leave their home, family and community by conditions beyond their control. We see the Christ Child, born in a stable, homeless, with no one to welcome him. And then the little family is forced to flee to a foreign land to save the life of the Author of life. We remember the words of Jesus, "Whenever you did it to the least of these, you did it to me."
Help us to welcome Him today in the immigrant and the homeless we encounter right here on the Gulf Coast!
May you experience all the Joy that is Christmas and all the blessings of faith in the New Year.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 November 2010 14:35 )