By Ana Maria Garcia
These are challenging times for me and my family because I am basically the head of the house. The bills are not waiting, and there is no such thing as paying them later. You have to pay them month by month, otherwise you’re not going to have water or electricity. I’m making sure that we have an umbrella to stay under.
For me, it’s hard to try to support my family here and help my family in El Salvador. I’m blessed to still have my grandma, the one who raised me and my siblings. I owe her all I know. I always send some money to her and my family in El Salvador because right now, life is hard over there with COVID. A lot of families are losing their homes.
In my work as the Strategy and Logistics Assistant at Takoma Education Campus, working with undocumented and immigrant families who have just come to this country – without any resources – has been eye opening. A lot of my families have two or three kids. They are not currently working, and they don’t get unemployment benefits. I also work with families who have become homeless because they’re not able to work. It’s painful to hear their stories – where their children are used to having a place to call home, where they feel comfortable, where they feel loved, where they feel that everything is okay and safe. And now they’re living with whoever can give them a room to stay. The children were already feeling sad about not being able to go to school, and now they don’t have a place to live.
For me, this pandemic has made me even more committed to immigrant families, who are struggling particularly hard. People like me need to be the voice for these families who may not know how to find help, like applying for benefits or accessing free resources.
At the end of the day, I want all of us to be focused on the same thing: the children. We are thinking about going back to school and taking precautions. But are we sure that this is going to work? Are we sure that this will minimize the number of the Coronavirus cases? I worry because a lot of people are losing family, which is devastating. It makes me afraid to return to school.
I think we need to ask ourselves, what do we really want? I don’t know when we will go back to school, but hopefully vaccines and medication can help us before we have to. Right now, I’m thinking about the families that I support through my work – families like mine – and I want us to focus on what’s best for us, our families, and most importantly, our children.
Ana Maria Garcia is a Parent Trainer with the Flamboyan Foundation in Washington, DC.