Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Missing mothers

Yesterday in conversation I started telling some of the many stories I've heard about families in El Salvador where the mother is living in the United States and the children are living with relatives. A Salvadoran friend recently visited her mother, whom she'd not seen for eight years, in the central US. The mother of a young girl I know lives in Virginia with her new family; her Salvadoran daughter is being raised and loved by her grandmother, aunts and cousins. Another Salvadoran immigrant became a mother after she was raped on her journey through Mexico, something that happens almost routinely to undocumented migrant women: she sent her son home to his grandmother, who is raising him.

These are just a handful of what must be thousands and hundreds of thousands of similar stories, only the ones I've heard from the Salvadorans I know well. Imagine the toll it takes on children to know that their mother has chosen to live in another country, even for good economic reasons; imagine the toll on the family, that most central institution of Latino society, that so many mothers and fathers are connected to their families only by the telephone and wired money.

Imagine how these broken families may connect to a new report from the United Nations Development Program saying that Central America is the most violent region of the world, "drowning in violence."

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