Companions pray every Thursday for peace and reconciliation. The urgency of this gets real, fast. Many of the Companions are on the forefront of the crisis of the unaccompanied minors whose parents have sent them fleeing the violent threats of gangs in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Some make their way to my Cincinnati, where many of my friends are driving children huge distances to immigration court dates, and helping them cope with an entirely new set of oppressions. The last Thursday in April, my friend Nancy copied me on an email to our bishop about one of the youthful Guatemalan refugees here.
“Maria [name changed] is 17 and here with no family. Unlike nearly everyone who has tried to come here in the last 18 months, she made it across the border without being apprehended. She lives with a former neighbor from Guatemala and they both attend Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador [Nancy’s parish]. Her father hocked his land in order to raise some money for her trip here, plus the woman she lives with has loaned her money.
“Although she really wants to attend school and eventually go to college to become a nurse, she first has to pay back her debt to her father and the neighbor – a debt of nearly $8,000. This is a little higher than some, but I think that it probably included a tacit rape-protection clause: the latest statistics are that 80% of the women and girls who come here have been raped somewhere along the journey.
“At the moment she is working two jobs, one as a hotel mail and one as a commercial janitor, in order to make as much money as possible. Both pay minimum wage [$8.10 an hour in Ohio]. I have already spoken to the Cincinnati Public Schools about enrolling her in high school next fall if she is able to get rid of this huge debt.
Our April Intercession Paper included this quote from our founder Emily Morgan’s 1921 Letter to her Companions in the SCHC:
“From the very start of the Society we have been interested in social and industrial conditions…conclusions have been reached not by dreams of brotherhood or reading about radical theories of deconstruction but by a constant strain on hearts and sympathies through personal contact with the inequalities of conditions and intolerable misery which it would be impossible to believe are in accordance with the will of God.” (Emily Malbone Morgan, Letters to her Companions (SCHC 1944), pp. 210-11.