For Priscilla*, Honduras was home. She and her husband ran a family bakery where they made pastries, fresh juices and cakes. They led a peaceful and happy life with their four children.
Then the gangs began to terrorize her neighborhood.
At first, they left her family alone. Then they began to harass shop owners — ransacking their businesses and homes and extorting them with a “war tax.” Those who resisted, including one of Priscilla’s friends and her two children, were brutally killed.
Priscilla paid the gang, but its leader wanted more than money. He demanded that Priscilla’s oldest daughter become his “girlfriend” — which would have forced her into a life of violence and sexual abuse. Soon after, Priscilla got a call from the police, asking her to identify a body that had been savagely tortured. It was her brother.
Knowing they had days — if not hours — before the gang came for her daughter, Priscilla and her husband spent the last of their savings on bus fare, fleeing Honduras forever for Mexico.
I was lost and afraid. I didn’t know anyone.
Although the family was finally safe, the trauma had taken its toll. Priscilla had a nervous breakdown. Her younger children were in shock from being caught in the crossfire of a shoot-out between rival gangs shortly before the family fled.
Despite the trauma they have endured, Priscilla and her family are beginning to envision a future of peace and possibility. Thanks to the generous support of USA for UNHCR donors, they have a safe place to live and cash assistance to pay for rent and groceries. Local staff from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, provide emotional support and visit the family often. Their refugee status application was recently approved and will enable Priscilla to send her children back to school and perhaps even start another business with her husband.
Priscilla and her family are among thousands of Central American refugees fleeing gang warfare. But donors are providing them the safety, protection and dignity they deserve.
*All names changed for protection purposes.
Here’s how you can help …
Priscilla has the same hope all mothers have for their children: a life better than her own. You can help her and refugee parents all over the world secure that safer future for their families by becoming a USA for UNHCR monthly donor today. Start your gifts today.