Journey from Home

Content warning: The stories throughout this issue may be especially activating for some readers. Many of these pieces involve descriptions of traumatic experiences including sexual violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, queer/transphobic violence, in addition to the violence of states and false borders.

My name is Manuel Esteban, a homeless immigrant living in San Francisco. I started my journey to America from Columbia. It was a rigorous journey from my home to Mexico. Since by then I had run out of money, I was detained and put to work for a drug packaging outfit for almost three years, where we were worked to the bone to be able to afford the next leg of our journey. Some decided it wasn’t worth it and tried to run, with catastrophic results if caught, so that those of us remaining wouldn’t attempt it at all. 

Finally, it was decided that some of us who had been there long enough had paid our dues and we were finally brought over. The only people I knew in the states were in San Francisco, so I made my way here to begin my life. I always thought that once I got to America, it would be all worth it for a piece of the American Dream. But when I got here, I found out that not one of my acquaintances had jobs. We had to do manual labor, and that was when we were lucky to be picked for daily chores. We lived together to try and save the little money we could manage to make, but since we all had people depending on us back home, no one really had the time or patience to baby others. I have been a short person since birth and I have little education, so I was rarely picked to work and eventually found myself out on the streets. I don’t blame anyone because they did what they could under the circumstances.

I have been living on the streets since, eating from dumpsters. I have stolen food from restaurants, and snatched it from people just to make it through another day. The nights are cold and the concrete is hard, but it’s my new reality and I have gotten used to it since it’s better than going home. I stay because I have hope that one day, my circumstances will change and I can get a chance to build something for myself.

I hope my story helps and you can also help me too.

Hi or Bye

The floor is hard and unforgiving
Every day and night 
The cold gets deep inside
People think I chose this life
And they say it's not their fight

The hunger gets unbearable
And even with my pride I beg
If not, in the garbage I dive
And fish for whatever was leftover

I watch traffic go by
and busy people pass by
it's like I don't exist at all
Since none say hi or bye

I thank the higher power though
For there are some good folk in this land
Who give people like me a hand
And give us hope for a better land.