Human+Kind: Cristian's Story

ARMANDO. PHOTO CREDIT: CARLOS RODRIGUEZ, RED CROSS VOLUNTEER

ARMANDO. PHOTO CREDIT: CARLOS RODRIGUEZ, RED CROSS VOLUNTEER

Migration affects the lives of millions across the United States, the Americas, and globally. The Human+Kind project seeks to highlight the stories of migrants in the US-Mexico borderlands and the work of humanitarian organizations to support them, including the work of the Red Cross. For more from this project, please click here.

I’m originally from Tijuana. Things have changed around here a lot. It’s like living in another world. Life here makes people go to extremes: steal, fight, do and sell drugs. Things that we don’t want, nobody [from Tijuana] wants. We just want a stable life and a stable job.

I’m not working right now because of my disability. I get upset and frustrated because a person like me can do twice the work of an able-bodied person [if given the chance]. I’ve been working for a store owner off-and-on and I finish my work in half an hour. She’s known me since I was a kid. People ask me if my disability allows me to work like that and I say that it allows me to do that and more. But some people are afraid to hire me.

Sometimes I wonder what to do, where to go. The government agencies don’t really help because they claim they’ve already helped enough. I have been living alone on the streets for 6 years. I try to get ahead, to live. Sometimes I eat, sometimes I don’t.

I’m not going to give up, though. God gave me my life and only he can take it away. I ask people why they drink or why they take drugs. I tell them that they’re only hurting themselves. Why? Life has its ups and downs but, as long as you follow what God wants, you’ll be alright. God never leaves my side.

Today I had breakfast but there are days when I don’t eat. If you see dark circles under my eyes, it’s because I don’t sleep. By seven or eight o’clock at night, I’m trying to find where to eat or looking for a place to stay, bathe, and change into some clean clothes. Really, most times it’s only looking for a place to wash up. Even if I’m wearing the same clothes, the trick is to wash up so I don’t smell bad. I sweat. I can tell when I smell bad and when I need a bath, but with what money?

A bath costs 50 pesos ($3 USD). A room for the night costs 200 pesos ($12). You work like a dog for 20-30 pesos and you ask yourself, what good is that? I want my own room. I want my privacy. I want to take a bath, watch television — but money doesn’t go very far. A donut costs 10 pesos (60 cents), a taco is 17 pesos ($1) — so do I eat or not eat, or do I save the money to try and get a room later?

Above all, I’m making it. And I’m demonstrating to others that even with my disability, I can make it. I know that God has something in mind for me. I thank Him for another day, for allowing me to get up, move, meet people. Every day is different. I ask Him to be the owner of my life, to guide me, to speak through me. Happiness, peace, and tranquility? I have them because of God.