• Jane Juffer

"Armed men came looking for me at work"

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

May 5, 2020


I'm going to tell you a little bit about my mother and my sisters. I have always worked very hard so I could buy food for the house, and I was always happy when I got paid because I was in charge of buying food for my mother, and I felt very proud when I went to buy and bring it to my mama. I also helped pay for the light and the water. When it came to the 24th or the 31st of December, when we could go to parties, I was happy that my mama had nice clothes to wear, and nice shoes. When my older sister would call me and say when are you coming to visit me, I would say, I don't know, because I don't have any money saved. She lived in the city of San Salvador, and I lived in the country with my mama and my little sister. Sometimes I could save $5 and then I would go to visit her, bringing her mangos when they were in season and sometimes corn on the cob. And she would buy buy socks, bras, perfume, deodorant, and shoes every three or four years.

One time, my mama said to me, I have a present for you, daughter, because your birthday is coming up. I used my savings to get you a little something. And I said, ah, no mama, not your savings! She gave me a box and I hugged her and cried a little, and she cried a little also. Then she said, :open it!" so I did, and it was a pair of Nike tennis shoes in my favorite color--purple. I will never forget this day. I gave my mama many kisses. I have been away from my mama until I had to leave, fleeing for my life because of the danger in El Salvador. It is so painful to be this far away from my mama and my sisters and the children of my sisters.

When the time came to cut the cane in the fields, I worked like a man. Mama would wake me up a 2 a.m., I would bathe, then catch the bus at 3 a.m., and not arrive back at the house until 5:30 p.m., sometimes 4:30, but sometimes 8 p.m.

I started working in a factory, and they gave me the opportunity to work and study from Monday to Saturday. When I began my studies, I worked from Monday to Friday, from 5 a.m. to noon for $5. Sometimes, I worked from 5 a.m. to noon and from 1 pm. to 5 p.m. for $10. I worked almost one year in this factory. There were some women who worked there, bad women, who said I must have thought I was a man because I worked harder than any of the boys who worked there. It was by working so hard that I gained the confidence of the head engineer. But It was here that I almost lost my life. One day, some armed men came looking for me at work, but the engineer alerted my boss by the radio and l left as quickly as I could because I knew my life was in danger. I couldn't keep working there any longer. I told my sister, and she said, Elisabeth, take a rest from work. And I said, I can't rest because I need to pay for the water, the light, and she said, we will find a solution. Don't worry, sister, our mother has more children.

In September 2018, I left my house because they came looking for me to do nasty things to me. One of them is the leader of a gang. He wanted to have me, for better or worse.

So many painful memories.

. . .

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