Five mothers of the missing Ayotzinapa, Mexico students have trekked nearly 2,000 miles to follow Pope Francis’ 6-day U.S. tour in the hopes of meeting and urging him to support their mission of finding the 43 children, NBC News reports.
"We want him to speak out in favor of Ayotzinapa," Hilda Legideño, one of the indigenous mothers, told the news site. "As a representative of God, we ask him to support us and speak with the President to find our sons."
The students went missing on September 26, 2014, bringing the issue of government corruption and crime in Mexico to an international audience.
According to the Mexican government, the missing students were taken into custody by orders of the mayor and his wife, and were later given to a drug gang named Guerreros Unidos who allegedly killed them and incinerated their bodies at a waste drop-off site.
Despite Mexico's Attorney General announcing last week that experts have found the remains of a second student, the parents of the Ayotzinapa 43 believe their sons are alive. A recent report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights supports their theory, too. According to the study, there is no evidence of the students being incinerated at the dump.
The mothers believe that the Pontiff, who is respected among many across Latin America, holds the power to pressure President Enrique Peña Nieto to find their children and get justice.
"We are not crazy," Hilda Hernández, another Ayotzinapa mother, said. "As Mexican citizens we want to see our sons alive again … and even though we come from different places … speak different languages … we are brothers and sisters … we are [all] the same – human."