In a remote village of the Amazon jungle in Bolivia, a mother of an Indian family returned to her village after visiting a doctor in a nearby town with sad news for the family. She had been told that she needed a heart transplant which was impossible for many reasons, especially because of the cost which was beyond the imagination of the little family.
Her oldest daughter decided to go to the city and look for work in order to pay for the operation. She felt very fortunate to find the opportunity to sign a contract (with a cash advance) and travel to the United States where there was a very substantial salary guaranteed. She signed the contract and sent the cash advance to her family, telling them that she would be back in about two years and not to worry. She was never heard from again.
Her father and brother went to the city to try to trace her. They found friends who knew pieces of what had happened, but they could never find the owner of the contract. They did, however, find others who had had the same experience–the loss of a loved one who had traveled to the United States after signing a contract for work with an exceptional salary, never to be heard from again.
For these people, family is a very sacred value. What happened to this young girl was a tragedy, not just for the girl’s family, but for the whole village. To not know what had happened to her caused unspoken anguish for this little family. Where was she? Was she suffering? Will she ever return? How can we find her? Will we ever see her again? The anguish never goes away.
Written by Sister Mary Gerald McCloskey, D.C.