My Brother Could Have Been a Child Soldier

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Staying meant that her son could be taken at any given time because there was no way of telling how long the conflict would go on. And all she could think about was a gun strapped to her son, a small defenseless boy. Before, there was a draft looking for boys who were 15 or older, but now that so many had left or died, they were looking for anyone.

Making the trek to the United States was just as risky. She could be caught or killed along the way. If and when she reached America, she had no idea what she would do. She didn’t speak English, and she’d have to start her life completely over.

She was only certain that she would not be separated from her son. She wouldn’t let anyone take him, and if she moved to the United States, she was not going to leave him behind, a difficult choice that many other parents couldn’t avoid.

“If we die, at least we’ll die together,” she would tell herself. Now, all she saw was death around her.

For about a year and a half, she continued working while she scrimped and saved, only spending money on food, while she decided what her next move would be.

It was finally when a family friend made her way back to Nicaragua to get her children, that my mom decided she had to move. They had to wait until every part of their escape route was planned, and finally, in 1986, at the end of January, they left Nicaragua.

They would travel by bus until they reached Mexico, where my mother’s friend had a contact to get into Texas.

January 31. Honduras.

February 8. Guatemala.

February 11. Mexico.

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About this author

Yara Simon, Contributor

Yara Simón is a freelance writer who grew up in Miami and was raised by her Nicaraguan mother. She graduated from the University of Florida before moving to New York. She loves the city, though she suffers from fritanga withdrawals. Fashion labels Proenza Schouler and Wes Gordon make her heart flutter, and she won't miss an episode of Game of Thrones. 

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