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Maria walked 2700 miles through four countries. But that’s not the story

Maria (the name and the story are real) worked her entire life as a teacher in her native Central America. But work did not generate the minimum income to meet the basic needs of life. So, one day, she decided to do the unthinkable: walk from her city to the United States. But that's not the story.

María is one of those people who dared to walk 2700 miles and on that road she faced numerous dangers, slept next to rivers or under trees, ate every other day, and had no clothes to change or a place to wash herself. Eating fresh food was clean hands was a luxury. 

But that's not the story either.

On the way, María suffered all kinds of circumstances, excluding physical assault, but including the theft of her few belongings, extortion to cross certain places, persecution by immigration and law enforcement officer and by gang members, and many moments without knowing if she would have the necessary mental and physical strength to live one more day.

But that's not the story either.

At the border with the United States, María managed to show that her family was waiting for her in this country and, therefore, she was able to enter legally. Maria then traveled, also on foot, the distance from the border to the home of her relatives. Once there, her own relatives told her to leave and María was literally left on the street. She was homeless for a year.

But that's not the story either.

During her time experiencing homelessness, with no other available resource but her determination, Maria visited numerous community centers, charities, churches, and pro-immigrant groups to ask for help. And in all cases, reasons were given not to help her. María, legally in the United States and in a major American city, continued to live by rivers and under trees.

But that's not the story either.

What then is then the story of a woman who walks thousands of miles in some of the most dangerous places in the world, and who is betrayed by her family and rejected by those who are supposedly dedicated to helping people like her?

The story is that Maria made all that long six-month walking journey and experienced that long year of helplessness with her severely disabled 20-year-old son Ruben. Maria made the dangerous journey to give Ruben a better future.

Recently, just before a snowstorm with historically unprecedented low temperatures arrived, Maria found a place to stay and a group of people who are helping her and her son in different ways. She is no longer living on the streets, but she and Ruben still face many challenges before achieving a minimum of stability and independence. 

Maria has long since stopped praying to God, but she never stopped crying for her son. As a mother, she intuitively knows what the Talmud teaches: the gates of heaven are sometimes closed to prayers but are always open to tears. And that is the true story.

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