Migrants Talk About Their Most Prized Possession

Editor
By Editor May 18, 2017 19:32

Migrants Talk About Their Most Prized Possession

Migrants Talk About Their Most Prized Possession

By Carolina Moreno

When visual journalist Melissa Lyttle moved to Los Angeles just before the U.S. presidential election last year, she found herself drawn to the border and all the political rhetoric wrapped into it.

The 40-year-old Floridian’s curiosity about both immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border eventually led her to Mexico City in December. Lyttle visited a migrant shelter for youth and began taking portraits of migrants making their way to the United States.

But Lyttle, who worked as a staff photojournalist for 15 years, did more than just take a few shots of each person. The photographer also learned a little bit about what motivated each person to make the treacherous journey to the U.S.

“It’s all about introducing yourself, stating your intentions, and allowing people the space to share their stories,” Lyttle told HuffPost about how she approached each migrant with the help of a translator. “Almost everyone I talked to allowed me to make a portrait of them.”

With the help of a reporting fellowship from International Women’s Media Foundation, Lyttle was also able to visit Ciudad Juárez and Nogales as part of her project. At one point, she asked one migrant about the most important thing he carried with him on the journey.

“I wasn’t really expecting anything when I asked them about their prized possession,” she told HuffPost. “It was more a curiosity, initially, and I asked one person, thinking it’d stoke an interesting conversation. And boy, did it ever.”

“He told me about a photograph of his girlfriend that he carried with him in his wallet,” she continued. “And then how he was robbed on his journey, and he was more sad about losing the picture than the money in his wallet. If his answer wasn’t so touching, I may have not asked again. But it made me even more curious what others would say.”

In the end, the physical things didn’t surprise me nearly as much as the mental ones: faith, hope, phone numbers committed to memory.”

One by one, she asked at least a dozen migrants about their most prized possessions, and included it in the captions of their portraits along with information about why they decided to leave their own country behind.

“In the end, the physical things didn’t surprise me nearly as much as the mental ones: faith, hope, phone numbers committed to memory,” she said. “And of course, I adored the guy who told me ‘himself.’”

Lyttle recently returned to Ciudad Juárez and traveled to Chihuahua City to continue working on stories about migrants. She hopes reading their stories and seeing the faces of the individuals risking their lives will give people some perspective when discussing immigrants.

“I really hope that people realize and can relate to the fact that people are simply searching for a better life — and that’s not a good reason to prosecute them,” she told HuffPost. “I also hope people realize that there are economic migrants, who want the chance to make money and support their families and they’re not being granted it where they’re from, and then there are refugees … people fleeing violence, persecution, and worse. And lastly, I hope people realize that we’re all the same deep down inside.”

Check out 12 portraits of migrants and captions by Lyttle below.

    • Angel Morales Hernandez, 18, of Tepiaca, Puebla. His dad lives in Phoenix and he hopes to join him in search of a better life. The most important thing he carries with him is “el Señor” (the Lord).

      Melissa Lyttle
      Ofelia Galvez Juarez, 34, of Lapa Guerero. She has a 12-year-old daughter that lives in New York that she’s trying to get to. The most important thing she brought with her was the strength to continue on.

      Melissa Lyttle
      Martin, 17, is from Mexico’s Jalisco state. A month ago his dad killed himself, so he came north in search of a better life. He dreams of making it to the U.S. He hopes for a good job and to be able to make more money and help his mom take care of his younger siblings. The most important thing he’s got is the faith to arrive.

      Melissa Lyttle
      Barbara, 21, is from Honduras. She left because of the discrimination against trans people: “They suffer a lot of indignity.” She can’t get work, and left with only $420, so most of the time she walked. Her family accepts her and wants her to come back but she sees no future there. The most important thing she brought with her was the dream of making it to Los Angeles.

      Melissa Lyttle
      Julio Cesar Chavez, 19, left his home in Mexico four months ago because of the violence and also because there is no work. He said he wants to cross into the U.S. for work and to be able to provide a future for his family. He wants to bring them, but doesn’t want to put them in danger. He plans on crossing solo near Tijuana. The most important thing he brought with him was the memory of his 1-year-old daughter Diana Michelle. She’s the reason he’s doing this.

      Melissa Lyttle
      Anonymous, 17, from Honduras. His girlfriend’s dad was a drug dealer and didn’t like him dating his daughter. Her dad threatened to kill him, and she called to warn him as two men were on their way to his house to find him. He’s trying to make his way to Houston to stay with his aunt, but he may just stay in Mexico now because the journey is too hard.  The most important thing he brought with him was a picture of his girlfriend, but he got mugged along the way and it was stolen. So, now it’s just the memory of her.
  • Melissa Lyttle
    Benjamin Ruiz Cortez, 34, is from Quezaltepeque, El Salvador. It took him nearly three months to travel from his home to the border in Nogales, Sonora. He fled because he said he witnessed the murder of a 14-year-old and no longer felt safe: “People know that I saw it. They know I know who did it.” The most important thing he carries with him is a cross with his name engraved on it, for luck.

    Melissa Lyttle
    Severino, 23, is from the Mexican state of Guerrero. His family is in Los Angeles, so he’s trying to get to Tijuana to cross over to be with them. The most important thing he brought with him was himself.

    Melissa Lyttle
    Jose, 44, is from Guatemala. He gave a coyote money 20 days ago and he never saw the man or his money again. He has two teenage kids and a wife in Houston. The most important thing he brought with him was his cell phone, so if something happens to him at least he’d have communication.

    Melissa Lyttle
    Jorge Lagos, 22, of Honduras, left his home four months ago. He’s hoping to make it to Houston, where his aunt and cousins live, in hopes of finding work. The most important thing he brought with him was the telephone numbers of his family, in his memory.

    Melissa Lyttle
    Alejandro, 22, took the bus most of the way from El Salvador to Mexico City. He wants to work in a restaurant either in Mexico City or in the United States. He left for better opportunities. The most important thing he brought with him was hope.

    Melissa Lyttle
    Jorge Luis Lopez, 21, is from Honduras. He’s been traveling for 22 days — by car, train and bus. His uncle says he has a job for him doing construction if he makes it to Maryland. He’s in search of “una vida mejor,” or a better life.
    The most important things he brought with him were water and his sweater.

Source: HuffPost

 

Editor
By Editor May 18, 2017 19:32

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