Stories

Juan Reunites with His Family After Being Separated for 19 Years

Juan

Meet Juan 

Juan is a Guatemalan national who has been in the U.S. for 19 years. In 2004, Juan and his wife made the very difficult decision for Juan to go to the U.S. to find work to support his wife, their two young sons, and their baby that was on the way. Juan found work as a tile setter and construction specialist, staying wherever he could, while sending his earnings back home. Because Juan’s family lived in a remote village in Guatemala with little to no technology, communication was difficult. The process to contact family was an arduous one that required Juan to refer to a notepad with written instructions for international codes and village numbers. 

Juan’s Journey 

In 2015, Juan was assaulted and robbed by a group of individuals, leaving him bloodied, battered, and without his belongings, which contained his travel documents, his phone, and the notepad for contacting home. Juan remembers panicking at the thought of being unable to connect with his family while also having no means of support here in the U.S. He wanted to reach out for help but did not know where; and whenever he did reach out to different places, they did not know how to help him.

 For the next seven years, Juan would struggle in the streets. It was hard for Juan to sleep at night, not only because of the threats he faced being homeless, but also the fears he had about his family. Juan feared that after all that time without contact, his family may have concluded that Juan forgot about them, when in fact, he could not stop thinking about them. Juan also dreaded that his family might have moved on without him while he was stuck in uncertainty and fear. This once hopeful and cheerful man had lost all hope. 

How Harbor Helped Juan 

After another assault while living in the streets, Juan was hospitalized and sent to Harbor Care to recover from his wounds. “I felt like God sent me [to Harbor]. The Care Unit staff welcomed me and took care of me. The place was clean and safe; I felt very happy there,” said Juan. It did not take long for Juan to make friends with the other residents, receiving and giving encouragement.  

When meeting with his Case Manager, Jose, Juan had mentioned his desire of returning to Guatemala to live with his family. “I didn’t think it was possible to go back. I just mentioned it to Jose, but I thought I would never get to return home,” recalled Juan.

 Jose accompanied Juan to the Guatemalan Embassy to meet with an Embassy Official. This three-hour meeting eventually resulted in a successful acquisition of a travel document that would allow Juan to board a direct flight back to Guatemala. “I could not believe it,” Juan shared tearfully. “It was as if God remembered me.” 

Harbor Care purchased a one-way ticket for Juan to go home for the first time since 2004. “It’s my first time on an airplane, so I am nervous,” Juan laughed. “It will be the first time seeing my wife and kids in a long time, and the first time seeing my son who is now 18. I really don’t know what to expect, but I hope they will remember me,” says Juan. 

“I am thankful to everyone at Harbor for the help they gave to me. They all helped me. They were with me. God bless them all. I will never forget what they did for me,” says Juan with a grateful smile.  

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