This month, we continue Simba’s story, a Sarah’s resident. At 39 she left Africa to escape death from poverty. Trained as a social worker and with little savings Simba flew to Panama. She’d hoped to stay there, but not speaking Spanish, working there seemed impossible besides the reality that people didn’t know what social work was. Simba went to Costa Rica to Nicaragua and then to Honduras. Her sister sent her $300 because her savings were gone. She then went to Guatemala, then Mexico crossing at the Mexicali/Calexico border into California.
Most of Simba’s trip was walking off roads to avoid soldiers, and periodically crossing dangerous rivers. During a month of walking she was detained three times. It took her four months to get to the US. She met few women along the way. Men held her up making her pay them so she could keep walking. She ran out of money. She ran out of food. She ran out of hope. Every step was dangerous. She doesn’t know how she made it alive.
At the border in California, Simba had a phone number for someone she met along the way. It was the only phone number she could give the immigration officers. They let her pass. She committed to go to North Dakota hoping to stay with a woman she’d only met once who had family she’d never met. At least Simba didn’t have a delay waiting for an interpreter because her English was good enough. She could speak and write for herself. Immigration officers shackled her with an ankle monitoring bracelet, another requirement before continuing her journey. Changing buses three times, it took four days to get to North Dakota. She doesn’t know who paid the bus fares. Alone, exhausted, scared, Simba worried she would get lost. Immigration officers advised if that happened she should see a police officer who would check her “bracelet”! A few days after arriving in North Dakota Simba had to take another bus to Fort Snelling in Minnesota to have her ankle monitoring bracelet removed. Simba doesn’t know who paid her bus fare or gave her $50! It is a mystery.