“Ceci is a phenomenal young woman, who was raised by phenomenal Farm Labor organizers,” states Donna Akuamoah, site attorney for Fayetteville Justice for Our Neighbors. “She has singlehandedly referred over 20 clients to us. Ceci is the future.”
“I like to help people,” Ceci answers simply. At only 17 years old, she is already a seasoned volunteer and activist. This is her story, in her own words:
I was born in Guatemala, and I came to the United States when I was three years old. My mom wanted me to have greater opportunities for success because here in the United States, anyone can make their dreams come true.
I don’t remember much from the time when I first arrived, though I do have some memories. For example, I do remember that my favorite food was cereal with powdered milk. We would just add some water and boom! It was amazing.
I also remember parts of our journey from Guatemala. We could hear the rattle of the snakes around us while camping, but we would put garlic inside of our socks to keep them away.
The worst experience that I can remember happened when we first entered the desert. As soon as we were 10-15 minutes into our travels, the “zetas,” a group of “bad people,” as I was later told, came up to us with guns. They took all of our food and money.
Thankfully, nobody was harmed, and we were able to at least keep our water before being set free. It was a terrifying ordeal, but we made it here safe and together.
Ever since we arrived, my mom has been working in the fields of North Carolina for over 14 years! She has worked incredibly hard in order to support us and to be able to help my relatives in Guatemala. My father was never in the picture for me; never a call, never a message, nothing.
My mom would leave me with a lady, and she would take care of me while my mom went to work in order to pay off the money that she still owed the “coyote” and to send money to her family. Even though we are so far away from Guatemala, my mom has never forgotten her parents and has always been there for them.
Now, thanks to the FLOC (Farm Labor Organizing Committee), my mom now has a new stable job and does not have to labor outside in the heat or freezing cold.
FLOC is an organization that helps farmworkers and immigrants facing injustice issues by providing support and resources that they need. In response to issues created by the COVID pandemic, FLOC is giving out food boxes for the community. We will also be joining forces with Fayetteville JFON so that they can reach our people of Dudley, N.C., and the surrounding areas.
Finally, I am excited to share that I will be applying for a new form of immigration status in the U.S. Starting my application was fast and easy, thanks to Fayetteville JFON. I give them all my thanks, but I especially want to thank my JFON attorney Donna! She was always very patient and loveable. She made me feel as if we had already met and known each other for a long time.
My message to everyone is to keep supporting Justice for our Neighbors here in Fayetteville, so they can continue to advocate, educate, and provide high-quality immigration legal services to others just like me.