By: Mishael Henry
Eighteen-year-old Miguel Hernandes (not real name) recalls vividly the grueling journey, having to flee from his hometown and leaving behind his beloved friends, cousins, aunt and uncles, in search for a better life.
Miguel’s story hails from a societally and economically torn land, over 550 miles away from where he currently resides in Guyana.
Miguel and his family abandoned everything they had in Venezuela when he was just 10, to move to Guyana with hopes of having a life free from fear, trials and pain.
A son of supportive elderly parents and a brother to two siblings, Miguel found himself hammocked by riveting emotions on Tuesday evening as he spoke with this publication about his past life – memories he had kept locked away for years.
His current dwelling – a rental property – is not much, but it is home and has been so for the past year.
The young man recounted that every new morning in Venezuela began with turmoil, prompting his family of five to make the tough decision to leave everything they knew and loved behind.
Despite the sad state of affairs at home, Miguel did not want to abandon his home. “I was frightened to leave; I left back two of my aunts and my cousins that I really miss and since I leave, I’ve never seen them since.”
He explained that his family has Guyanese roots – his mother being a Guyanese by birth – hence the decision was an easy one to settle in Guyana.
Upon arrival on these shores with virtually nothing in their name, Miguel recounted the struggles his family endured, in seeking food, shelter, and comfort.
Initially, they were accommodated by family members as they desperately searched for jobs in order to earn a livelihood. His father worked in construction and a mechanic shop back home while his mother did cleaning jobs.
Equipped with those skills, his parents picked up a variety of odd jobs just to make ends meet.
In fact, Miguel recalled quickly learning several different trades and his efforts toiling in order to help support his family, all at the age of 10.
“As soon I came to Guyana, I got the opportunity to work to support my family.” His primary jobs were in the mechanical field, in which he learned onsite with his father, who worked as a mechanic back home.
In Guyana, Miguel first started working in the mechanical field, then onto washing cars. Now, he works at construction sites.
The scarred marks on his hands are a testament to what Miguel has been thriving for, ever since the new chapter of his life started in Guyana, a better life.
“Mano eso es lo que hacemos para sobrevivir,” he remarked, which translates to ‘Man, this is what we do to survive’.
Life is indeed much better in Guyana, than it was in Venezuela, for Miguel and family, but it came with a huge sacrifice.
“Any time I call my other family members from Venezuela on the phone I does feel to cry boy, knowing the distance and how long you never see a family member does hurt bad when you so far away from family, you does feel alone.”
While noting that he has seen an uprisal in his life and that of his family since their migration, Miguel gave thanks to God for the fortunes showered upon them, acknowledging that the journey of other migrants is probably even more challenging.
When asked, his advice to other migrants around the world is to push through the hardships and work to obtain income because ‘without money, you can’t do anything’.