Today's blog is a guest post from Fredy, one of our Peer Leaders and dedicated volunteers. Thank you, Fredy, for sharing your story with us!
My name is Fredy Portillo. My story begins in 1999, in Copan, a small town in Honduras. When I was a baby my parents abandoned me. I was raised by my grandmother. and my cousins. As I grew up, my life was normal. However, I was different from the children around me because I valued what little I had. I never considered myself special, but everyday people told me - especially my teachers - that I was unique because I was focused, responsible and God had a big purpose for my life.
I did not have a childhood of wonderful things. I never had toys. I never had expensive clothes. My aunt made a lot of my clothes for me. I was never the favorite nephew. I was always bullied in my family and in my school. They called me ugly and useless when I was little. They said that my education was a waste of time because I would never be anyone. But I had a dream to be “somebody” in life.
When I was nine years old, my grandmother died. She was the only family that I had. She was my protector - a superhero. Abuela was my role model. Before she died, I promised her that I would achieve my dreams because I would never give up. She was the only one who believed in me. Her death was the first loss that I felt. Her death was the first thing that marked my life. From that moment on, everything changed. I was alone. I always asked God why me? But what I did not know is that God was doing all these things in my life to make me strong and to become the person I am now.
I never left school despite the many obstacles in my way- especially my difficult financial situation. There were no opportunities for my cousin to make money in our small town. At the age of 12, I finished elementary school. Unfortunately, there was no Middle School for me to go to. I asked God every day to direct me in the best way. I had to make a big decision: Move away to another city so I could continue to study. Because I had to be independent, my life took a huge turn. I was a child trying to be an adult. I was living alone, I was without a family, I was without money. I had nothing - except the desire to overcome the situation of my life and the faith that everything would go well.
In 2016 my situation worsened. I did not have more money and the little money I had was gone. I needed to start looking for resources. This was very difficult, but God had planned my life, and his plans for me were not in Honduras.
Now, I ask you. What difficulties would you be willing to face to follow your dreams? Would you risk your life? Honduras is an extremely disadvantaged and dangerous country, but it was my destiny to be born and to grow up there. I consider myself to be a dreamer. While in Honduras, my dreams seemed impossible but I still held on to a greater dream: to obtain the best education, to reach my goals, and to overcome all the obstacles that kept me from achieving these goals. My life has not been an easy one. I have lived alone from the age of thirteen until the age of seventeen. This was devastating but taught me to look at life in a different way. I had to become an adult quickly and I had to attend the calling of taking ownership over my dreams at an early stage of my life.
When I saw that my future would not be the best in Honduras, I decided to escape. I made the most dangerous decision possible and with nothing to go back to. I decided to immigrate and seek asylum in the United States. I traveled in the worst way possible; I risked my life on the dangerous roads of Mexico and traveled with strangers to find safety and the opportunity of a new life in the United States. This life was where I could develop all of my potential, and become someone who can transform the world. I crossed the river between Mexico and the United States and walked for sixteen days, I slept in abandoned houses, and ate food that seemed more garbage than food. I risked my life because I believed that everything is possible and that we all can achieve a dream if we want it with all of our hearts.
Today, I can see that all the effort and suffering that I had to endure was worth it. I am finally in the United States, and God has provided me with a wonderful and true family, a wonderful school, and a great support system to achieve my dreams. Now, for the first time, I feel that I have a real life.
Now, my next step is to finish university to gain the knowledge to pursue my dream of being a great archaeologist. I want to show that immigrants are capable of achieving dreams. We are people, not criminals. Immigrants are strong, hard-working, and valuable parts of American society.
I got into seven great universities, I was very proud to say "Yes" to Cornell College in Iowa. Unfortunately, this year, COVID-19 appeared and ruined all my plans to save money and get my college education. My plan was to work and save during the summer, but with the beginning of the quarantine, I lost my job. For this reason, I am asking for your help today with all my heart.
I have a dream, my dream is to get my education. And today I ask you to be part of my dream.