“Fight for a better life”: Ganas

January 22, 2020 / Interviewed by Jennifer Huerta

Cristina is a mother of five from Mexico who at the age of seventeen took the life changing decision to move to the United States, begin a new life with her husband (eighteen years old) and her unborn baby of three months. She didn't have the best childhood but it made her into the person she is today, extremely strong and grounded. She came to the states with no knowledge of the English language and with her husband created a life better than what there was to imagine back in her hometown. Now Cristina continues to be the strong person she is and takes on the role of being a hard working, loving mother of five kids with her husband by her side. She is an amazing woman continuing to do everything she can to give her family everything she possibly could.

“My childhood wasn’t good at all because I remember, when my dad was drunk he drunks and he smokes and it wasn’t good at all because we live in a poor town where like we don’t have enough money to buy good food. Memories with my dad wasn’t good because he married another girl and then he was with my mom, but he doesn’t comes all the time, he wasn’t here when we needed him. When he cames to visit my mom he just came like drunk and he hit her and hit us and it was kind of sad because the only things we remember about him is sad things. At this point, we feel like with no family like only my mom works every single day.

" When I was younger and lived in Mexico there was a small town we lived in and my mom doesn't have enough money to buy shoes and like we had to walk with the shoes that had holes on it and we had to wear sweaters that had holes on it. We didn't have enough money to buy good food like meat, or shrimp, or fruit, or expensive things, we could only afford the land we harvest by our own. I didn’t have money to buy anything in school, we just wake up in the morning drink a little tea and didn’t eat anything. Sometimes my mom just made tortillas with sal and limon and you just ate that for all day, and sometimes they were hard. They started off soft at the beginning of the week, then we kept them until we finished them and they would get hard.

 

"We had basic education, I was a good student. Sometimes when your suffering like you don’t have money and the teacher told you if you study then you will have a better life, that make me study very hard because I want to do like having a better life. And key is if you study you will know how hard it is to get a better job but the basic key is the education, if you study and you are brave and you have goals then you have that energy, la fuerza para, the strongest to be. The sadness things makes you strong, you want to fight for a better life.

"I met my husband at sixteen years old and then like we just like know each other and we decided to come to the U.S. because there’s more work and more opportunities. In my town there’s like bad people, many people who kill, are robbers, and here we came for better life, and I came at seventeen years old, I was pregnant with three months. When we crossed the border it was kinda difficult. We just crossed by walking with the coyotes, people who help you cross the border, you need to pay them money at that time it was like 2,000 dollars and then they helped you get out the way on the mountains and desert.

"We had to walk three or four days without water or food and it was kinda sad because I was about to abort my baby because I was disidratata. But I believe in God and I was praying when walking and thanks God, my daughter is eighteen year old now and I can’t believe that because I didn’t think I would do it. I was a young mom, I was seventeen, I had no experience in anything after my daughter was born I went to school with a stroller and my husband was working. I did the G.E.D. because first I started classes for english and there was a daycare it was many opportunities because since I was in the classroom my baby was in a good place while I was studying.

"I think I made the right choice because if I was in Mexico I don’t think I was finishing my career. In Mexico I don’t think I live in a good place… there’s no future in Mexico. Right now I'm very happy about them because they have many opportunities here because all my kids born here. Many things need to happen to us in order to learn. Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s good, but we need to take the good things in order to be happy. In order to be strong, and have the strength to think oh I’m fuerte and I can do this.”

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Website created for Oral Histories of the Inland Empire (2018).