Risking It All: Part Two

Risking It All: Part Two

A 19-year-old Salvadoran teen prepares to leave his home for a new life in the Central Valley.
In order to make it to California's Central Valley Manuel knows it will take endurance, luck and above all strength. Three things he's learned on the not so soft mats of Mr. Marquez.

"It helps me carry on, to stay away from vices, it helps me to become stronger physically and mentally," said Manuel.

For some of Manuel's counterparts their strength is clear to see. This karate gym has become the home of more than a few Olympic hopefuls. But for Manuel, his goal is neither the Olympics nor is his strength obvious. To get the true measure of his character you must rise with the roosters. His day starts before the sun is even up. 

"I fight day to day to become better the next day. yes, it is very difficult. if you don't have money, you can't, you can't carry on. you can't pay for your education, you can't pay for university," said Manuel. 

He hopes a life in the United states will allow opportunity off limits in San Salvador. But to get there he'll need the man that walked out of his life when he was just 11.

"Well I felt a little bit bad, but at the same time I felt with satisfaction that I was going to be able to give them a better life, so they have a better future, so they don's suffer how I have," said Santos.

Manuel's father, Santos, who asked we not use his family's last name, is no stranger to a hard days work. Since coming to Fresno, he's held three jobs - including one fixing cars. All along his dream was to bring over Manuel, at a price tag of around 10,000 dollars it took him a while to save. But with every turn of his wrench, every back breaking maneuver, thoughts of his son were never far away.

"What I want is that he comes here to study, that he gets better prepared and I think things will go well for him because he's intelligent, polite, well what more can I say, he's my son," said Santos.

Back in San Salvador, Manuel is preparing for all he'll leave behind. These karate medals are his most prized possession but like most things they can't make the trip. In just a few days he will set off with little more than the shirt on his back. His father's 10,000 dollars has bought him a ticket on one of the wildest and most dangerous rides in the world. A human trafficker will take Manuel more than 1,500 miles through the jungles of El Salvador to the dessert of northern Mexico. Assuming they survive, he will try to cross the us border, where hundreds of migrants die every year.
Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus