This International Migrants Day, Doña Elisa Martinez—a dedicated member of CDM’s Migrant Defense Committee—bravely shares a testimony of what it means to be a migrant worker.
I migrated out of necessity—because of the lack of jobs and opportunities in our country.
Leaving my children, my family, my home… That was the hardest part. And it was the first time I’d ever left them. It hurts to leave.
When I was working in the US, I felt strange. I’d never left Mexico before going to the US as a migrant worker. I arrived in a country I’d never been to; where they spoke a language I didn’t understand. I worked there for three months the first time; and then for another eight months afterwards. But I never stopped feeling strange. In between terms, you get to return to your country. You go back to your family and kids, and you get used to feeling at home again so quickly. But then you have to leave them again.
It never gets easier. You never stop feeling strange. You’re always a stranger.
When I got home, I felt at ease, I was with my family and knew they were okay. I felt satisfied to have contributed to our household—to gather money to begin to build on. Migrating taught me to value my family.
I know we’re in need and yes, sometimes, we must leave in order to work. We risk so much by going to a country where we don’t know what to expect; we don’t know what the journey or job will be like, or what can happen along the way. I wish we would all think twice or three times before deciding to migrate.
This is what I would tell other migrant workers: you have rights as people, and there are people around you who are willing to help. Never give up; always fight. Always fight for your rights. And we can support your fight. Always seek out help if there’s a problem or something doesn’t seem right. Problems happen so often and we’re used to not talking about them or asking for help—mostly because we’re scared, and we don’t know what our rights are. But you have to be willing to defend your rights, always.