The Real Face of the Migrant Route: The Heartbreaking Story of A Mother

9-2016HN0024 Jennifer Gavarrete (8)

Poverty is the common denominator in many Honduran families. The uncertainty of being able to provide for their families can push people to look for new opportunities in the north. Every day, hundreds of people risk their lives to enter the United States in the hopes of finding the “American Dream.”

Olga Marina López, born and raised in the community of San Carlos (municipality of Omoa), was not aware of how dangerous her journey would be when she decided to migrate north. Olga owns a small clothing business, however, her business is not enough to live comfortably with her children. Having recently separated from her husband, as well as suffered the loss of her mother, she was struggling to provide for her children. She lives in extreme poverty with her family, and has twice failed to cross the United States-Mexican border in search of a better life. During her last attempt to cross the border, in a tragic turn of events, her 10-year old daughter Jennifer, drowned in the ocean when their motor boat over turned after being hit by a massive wave.

In the early morning hours of July 18, Olga boarded a bus with her daughter to travel to Guatemala. She considered taking her 16-year old son, however, her daughter begged to come with her pleading, “wherever you go, I´ll go.”

When they arrived to Guatemala, they continued their trip to Mexico on motor boat with eight other people through the Suchiate River. Jennifer was sitting between her mother´s legs when they reached the mouth of the Suchiate River, with the ocean waves growing stronger and taller every minute. Their motor boat was eventually hit with two waves. The second wave overturned their boat and flung all passengers into the water. Olga fought to get to the surface, but every time she tried, another wave pulled her down. When she finally rose to the surface, she frantically looked for her daughter. Jennifer was floating, holding tight to their bag of clothes. Olga screamed to her girl, “Hold on strong and don´t let go.” And she replied, “Yes, mom. I will hold strong.” Just at that moment, a huge wave hit them again. That would be the last time Olga would see her daughter alive.

Olga reached the shore and waited for two hours for her daughter to appear. A few passengers from their boat, a man from El Salvador, along with other men who were in the zone, helped look for Jennifer. When they found her floating body, Olga’s heart broke into a million pieces.

Jennifer was a member of Feed the Children’s Child Sponsorship Program, however, Olga decided to migrate to give her family a better life.

The number of Honduran migrants has increased to 200 people that abandon their communities every day in search of a better future. By the year 2013, the Migrant Attention Center registered one of the highest numbers of migrants, reaching more than 70,000 people.