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Yony and Karin's Story Continued...

Yony set off with the mission to free his parents and five siblings of debt. With little food or water, he along with two young migrants, walked through rough terrain frightened by unforeseen wild animals.  They stayed protected from gangs and thieves due to the coyote’s network along the migration corridor.

When Yony’s small boat capsized crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas – or the Rio Bravo, as he and local Mexicans call it – Bravo is Spanish for wild, ferocious, harsh; he didn’t think he would survive.

Despite facing death, as he swam across the river, turning back was not an option.

With his birth certificate tucked securely into his sock, Yony was able to prove his identity to authorities. This moved his case along.  He recalls other children who weren’t as fortunate waiting months in the detention facility.

This was one of many instances of fate that would save him along the way.

It took three perilous, uncertain months to finally find his way to Rhode Island.

Detained in a frigid holding cell, in Texas, known as hieleras or  “freezers,”  he was desperate to start his new life. When his extended relative, in the United States, declined to offer sponsorship,  Yony was transferred to a longer-term immigration holding center for children.

Word spread quickly to his village, of San Lucas Cala, that Yony had no one to receive him.

Karin Herrara with family ties to the country, having grown up in Guatemala, got news of a teenage boy from a good family in need of a fresh start.

Karin and her husband, not knowing Yony personally, yet assured by his kind, church-going family, took a leap of faith, eventually adopting him in order to provide a stable, loving home.

“I have five children of my own. He is now my sixth,” she smiled.

Now, at age of 23, he’s a permanent U.S. resident calling Providence and the greater Dorcas International community home.

With the help of Dorcas International’s Unaccompanied Minor program, the agency was able to help Karin and her husband navigate the legal and educational systems.

“Dorcas helped us with so much. Finding a lawyer that would take our case and helping us with the adoption process and getting him to school quickly before he turned 18,” says Karin.

It was not easy to get accustomed to school because he does not speak English. He did, however, feel immediately welcomed by his new family.

“I felt good when I got to their home because I felt welcomed by them and with their children. I felt like they were my brothers,” says Yony.

Yony continues to work extremely hard balancing two jobs in order to send funds back. With a proud grin, he explained he paid off his family’s debt, helped to build a bigger house and provide ownership of the land.

While he hopes to one day take English classes, his focus now is to work.

He does not miss the hardships of his childhood. Especially having to walk two-hours each way to school enduring extreme heat and rain. Instead he looks forward to a bright future where he can purchase his own home – putting down permanent roots – in a country that has afforded him an opportunity that other children like Yony are not always granted. 

– By Alli-Michelle Conti

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