Portrait of Diego Vargas

“I just focused my mind on the future and what I wanted to achieve.”

BMC_043 1Photo by Steve Mann

My father left my mother when I was a baby. He left her with three children to raise on her own, so we weren’t financially stable. My family and ancestors in our town had always been poor and humble. Food, clothes, money, and everything had always been scarce. People worked and continue working to only make enough for the day’s sustainment.

My mother wanted to give us a better living and future. So she took care of us for a few years until I was old enough to be independent. I was eight years old when she left for the U.S., leaving my brother and I with our grandparents. But my family would lie to my mom saying that they were taking good care of us. My mother would send us money, but they wouldn’t give it to us or buy us anything with it. They would maltreat us, and discriminate against us because we were different; we were children of a man they did not like. My brother ended up becoming the father figure in my life. He was the one who cared for me and raised me, to the best of his ability.

I was 11 years old when my 13-year-old brother and I had to drop out of school. We didn’t have the resources and money to keep ourselves in school, because our grandparents wouldn’t help us. We didn’t have money to pay for the public school’s fees, transportation, uniforms, and school supplies. Our childhood was rough. We had to leave school to work to make enough money to eat. I would work for my grandfather by raising and taking care of his cows. After a year, my brother and I had saved enough money and we fled to Tijuana, Mexico where we had an aunt to receive us. We had heard about Tijuana having many job opportunities and how it was a frontier city next to America.

It was hard for us to flee, because we were underage and didn’t have an adult with us. I can’t remember if we paid security to let us go, but I remember telling them that we were heading to Tijuana, and my brother was the oldest and the one in charge.

Once we arrived in Tijuana, we contacted my mother in the U.S. and explained everything that had happened to us and why we had fled. My mother was in such despair after hearing the news. She decided to leave everything she had in the U.S. to reunite with us. My brother and I continued to work in order to make a living, so we never went back to school.

I had always desired for us to have a house of our own, for my mother to live better, and for me to have my own things too. I was now 17 years old, so I decided to immigrate to the U.S. I remember having a lot of thoughts in my head before leaving home. I had heard many things about people dying or getting kidnapped at the frontier. I prayed for the best and asked for my mother’s blessings. I didn’t know if I would be back or if something bad would happen on the way there. I just focused my mind on the future and what I wanted to achieve. In my head I thought, ‘I want to go to the U.S. I have to go to the U.S., no matter what it takes.’

I remember my mom cooking a delicious authentic farewell dinner, pork with green salsa. My mother blessed me and told me not forget about her or the family, and for me to not change and always remain humble.

Once in the U.S., I arrived in North Carolina after a month of travel. I had uncles and cousins who already lived there and they helped me obtain a job at a restaurant. I have been working ever since and now work in construction. My mind continues to be set in giving my mother and my future family a suitable living.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is presenting the performance of Silvana Cardell’s Supper, People on the Move, accompanied by Jennifer Baker’s exhibit Portraits of People on the Move, on October 27 and 28 at Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer’s 22 London Rd. Studio in Asheville, NC. New portraits — “People on the Move” in western North Carolina by photographer Steve Mann and UNC Asheville journalist Karen Lopez — have been added.

For more information: http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/supper-people-move/



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