As a single mother with a full-time job and four children, how Eva Knight finds the time to study English, participate in her church community, and volunteer for a domestic violence support group, is a tribute to a person’s indomitable spirit. If anything, Eva’s past serves as a reminder of just how determined that spirit is.
Years before, in Honduras, Eva’s husband physically hurt her. Over and over again. Her local police department failed to protect her. The abuse had to stop. She could leave him, she thought, but what about the children? At that time she had three children and loved them deeply. In 2007, however, Eva found the strength and a way to move forward with her kids, and away from him. But it would mean separating, not only from her abusive husband, but from her children, too. She arranged for them to stay with their grandma in Honduras. She fled to the U.S.
Weekly phone calls did little to help the hurt of a mother and her children separated from one another. But hearing their voices on the end of the phone triggered Eva to seek help from Ayuda in 2010.
Ayuda helped Eva obtain a U visa, through her cooperation with the investigation and prosecution of her husband. After that, Ayuda teamed with Eva on a petition to bring her children to the U.S.
We were honored to watch the joyful, and tearful, reunion between Eva, Cristian, Hector, and Eva Gissela. It was a huddled entanglement of hugs, tears, and laughter—the kind of moment that gives form to the feeling of love and belonging.
While in the U.S., Eva was blessed with the birth of her fourth child, Karoline. Karoline was born with a heart defect, a dangerous condition called aortic coarctation. The condition has put little Karoline on the operating table twice for major surgeries. Today, Eva takes Karoline to specialists to monitor her heart and to ensure a continued response to treatment. Many of the specialists have told Eva that if Karoline had been born in Honduras or had to live there, she most likely would not be alive today.
Cristian is now 17 years old and doing well in his high school classes. Hector is 15 and enjoys listening to music on his MP3 player. Eva Gissela is an 11-year-old who loves ballet and equally enjoys Honduran folkloric dances, the kind that show traditional costumes. Karoline, the nimble 2-year-old, is a bundle of energy, constantly running around and exploring, with her mother or one of her older siblings chasing after her and the Dora backpack she stubbornly drags along everywhere.
All of them now speak fluent English, have American friends, and seem completely at ease in the Fairfax County school system.
We are now assisting with the children’s application for their green cards. They are excited at the thought of attending college and applying for U.S. citizenship in the future, a model provided by their mother.
The children stood proudly next to their mother when Eva finally received her green card last December. “Congratulations, Mom,” young Eva Gissela beamed.
Despite their heavily scheduled days, the whole family paid us a visit in December, bringing three beautiful rhododendrons, holiday cards, and heartfelt gratitude to Ayuda staff. Seeing the family walk in together was thanks enough.
Thank you, Eva, for allowing us to share your story. And a special thank you to Rebecca Walters, Ayuda volunteer, for putting Eva’s story into words. Eva’s story is a true Ayuda success story; however, names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.