Monday, December 29, 2008

An American Dream

photos by Sylvia Thompson

My friends, Fran Hanlon and Sylvia Thompson, were among those who took part in the vigil and toy drive at the T. Don Hutto immigrant prison in Taylor on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 20th. Here is an account Fran wrote about the event. Many thanks to Fran and Sylvia for permission to post the report and photos here:

The Hutto vigil was, as always for me, very moving. I would estimate the attendance at about 75…folks from all over the state.

One of the speakers was a woman who had been incarcerated at Hutto along with her children. She expressed (through an interpreter) how grateful she was for our presence and said that she loved us, but, she also said something like “I came to this country seeking the American dream, but, when I arrived, I discovered that it did not exist, that it is a lie.”

I spoke with her a bit afterwards. I had guessed that she was from Honduras and I was right. I told her that I had lived in Honduras and made sure that she noticed my 'Cuerpo de Paz, Honduras' t-shirt which has a map of the country on it. She smiled and pointed to Tegucigalpa, which was her home.

There were LOTS of toys brought and quite a few children in attendance, most of them very young. When it was time to deliver the toys the children were invited to carry them. The adults helped by bringing the toys part way and then handing them to the children to take to the bins that prison staff had set out in the parking lot next to a van.

It was so sweet to watch those children enthusiastically delivering the toys. Some of them were barely old enough to walk, but, they went back and forth taking armfuls of toys. Earlier it had been announced that, though a lawsuit settlement had allowed the imprisoned children to have toys, they were restricted to certain hours. The toys are taken up at 8pm each night and placed in a central location. So, no child can have her very ‘own’ toy, no child can go to sleep with a stuffed animal or doll, as my child did.

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