From the age of 5, when Enrique's mother left Honduras for a chance to earn a living in the United States, he has dreamed of a time when they will be reunited, for an opportunity to find out if she really loves him. Eleven years later, he undertakes the dangerous voyage north with little more than a scrap of paper bearing his mother's phone number.
In her Pulitzer Prize-winning book Enrique's Journey, Sonia Nazario tells the story of this 17-year-old boy's struggle to join his mother in North Carolina. Like millions of impoverished Central American migrants before him, Enrique is forced to travel through Mexico on the tops of freight trains, a perilous trip where he faces the threat of gang members, corrupt police, and the unforgiving wheels of the train, under which migrants routinely lose limbs or even their lives.
To report the story, Nazario spent weeks traveling atop trains in Mexico, retracing Enrique's route and subjecting herself to many of the same dangers. The result is a harrowing account of the journey undertaken by the poorest migrants to the United States, and the inexorable forces that drive them to leave their home countries.
On September 27, Nazario visited Long Island to discuss Enrique's Journey at two events at SUNY OId Westbury that were free and open to the public (for more information, click here). Scroll down to watch a slideshow in which she talks about some of the people she met during her time reporting in Honduras and Mexico, and what she experienced riding El Tren Peregrino, the Pilgrim's Train, en route to the US.
Nazario on why children undertake such a dangerous, and often hopeless, trek north.
A lot of these children symbolize to me incredible determination...I think Americans don't understand this kind of determination. If they saw what I saw, they would realize that no wall is going to stop a child who is this determined to reach the United States, whether it's to make money to help his family or it's to reach his mother who he hasn't seen.
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