FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. – His story is one of millions. She is a mother who worked tirelessly and risked everything to give her children the best possible chance.
Her reunion with her children has been in the works for half a decade.
Five years ago, Lea left her children, Nicole and Diego, in Nicaragua to try to provide them with a better life in the United States.
“I arrived in this country with great sadness to have to leave my children in Nicaragua because I am their mother and their father. It was very difficult, very difficult. I cried a lot,” Lea said.
She said the years were very difficult and she suffered without them. She works every day with a heavy heart. She spent countless hours cleaning houses, babysitting. She rummaged through piles of trash looking for things she could resell, then sent them all the money she could. She was also saving up to try to get them here.
“Not being able to see them or have them near me. Only being able to offer them material support and not being able to protect them and have them close to me. It’s something that makes you feel helpless.
Finally, she saved just enough to hire a coyote, someone who would guide Nicole and Diego on their journey across the border.
Nicole, 22, said the experience was incredibly difficult and lasted nine days in total.
All the while, she and 14-year-old Diego did their best to send Lea photos from their trip.
Until they finally reach their last obstacle by crossing the Rio Grande River.
Diego said the icy river reached his chest even on his tiptoes and Nicole was up to her chin in water at one point, frozen with fear.
“There was a moment when the current tried to pull me like this,” Nicole said, but she grabbed the hand of one of her companions, and they all crossed safely.
And in the brief moments before they were turned into customs, Nicole sent Lea a voice memo. “We crossed the river, mum. Everything is fine, thank God.
Nicole and Diego spent two days in an immigration center, then were put on a plane to find their mother for the first time in 5 years.
“For me, I have everything I need here. I don’t have to ask God for anything,” Lea said.
Nicole was only a year away from getting a degree in chemical engineering. Many students receive death threats in Nicaragua because they are often the ones who speak out against the government.
She dropped out when she started receiving threats and had to drop out of school.
His goal, for now, is to help his mother and work so they can earn enough money for a bigger house. Eventually, she wants to finish her degree.
Friends from the region launched a GoFundMe page to help them start their new chapter together.
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