Chasing the American Dream

If you have ever felt like you had it bad – money was tight, bills to be paid – watch the HBO documentary “Which way Home”. The story revolves around the thousands of teens and pre-teens who leave their homes in Central America to reach relatives in the U.S. in cities like New York and Los Angeles.

For the most part, these children ride on the top of freight trains traveling from Southern Mexico northwards to the U.S. border. The children in the documentary ranged from 9 years to 17.

Not only are these little children brave enough to leave parents (usually a mother) and siblings in order to travel across countries to reach the United States where they believe they will be able to find work and send money home to those left behind, but they face incredible danger and often death to do so.

At the very least, most of them will be beaten by Mexican Police, who board the trains and rob the children of what little belongings they possess – watches, a few pesos, rucksacks. Others are raped, starved and often killed – either by the “mules” who were paid to transport them, or they fall off the train in their sleep and are mangled and disfigured.

Amazingly, they know the dangers that await them. One of the most dangerous trains they frequently ride has been nicknamed “The Beast”, due to the number who fall off and get run over or who get killed when the train derails. The “pull” of the United States is too strong though and they carry on hoping this will be the time that they are successful in making it across the border.

It is such an incredibly sad story, that it should make anyone already living in the United States grateful for what they have – even if it is not a lot. One little 9 year old boy was apprended by the authorities was found to have been away from his family on his trek for the past 3 years….wandering since he was a six year old.

If there was a way to harness the perseverence and bravery of these young boys and girls, just think what they might be capable of achieving later on in life.

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