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  • Voices Without Borders

Maria's story

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

“ Physical connection is so important. I want to hug my son, my mother, my family, my friends, my brothers, my husband.

Remember to hug everyone before everything.”

(中文在下方)


I am Maria Fernanda from Venezuela, 41 years old. I live with my husband and 5-year-old son in the suburbs of Mexico City.


I arrived in Mexico City on October 9, 2018 with my son. We applied for refuge on October 14th of the same year. One year later, my refugee status got approval.


At the beginning of the political outbreak and economic crisis in Venezuela, I was still in Venezuela. My mom and one of my brothers were in Spain, some other family members were in Miami. My family are scattered in different corners of the world. They wanted me to leave Venezuela as soon as possible, as there was a worry for my safety. I was waiting for my passport.


The days before I left Venezuela, I was extremely afraid. I have to leave my friends, my dog, and the people I know. I came from a very small town in Venezuela and now I would move to a big city. I was so scared.


This decision is for my son.
I want him to be safe and able to continue his education.

And you know, I had my own business in Venezuela — a beauty salon for 10 years! I used to travel around Venezuela during the time I operated the business.


Stylist is my ten-year profession and passion,
but I have to leave everything there.

My husband didn’t want to come with me. He didn’t want to leave Venezuela. We almost got divorced. I gave him only two options: “let me go or we end our marriage!” as many other women do.


He finally let me leave the country with my son. I didn’t go to Spain because I heard it’s harder to get asylum there compared to the process in Mexico. However, while I had my first interview for a refugee status assessment, the government changed.


Everything stopped, even the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid (COMAR). I didn’t know what to do in light of the change of the government. At the same time, my husband almost got killed in Venezuela. Now he had no choice but to leave the country. We went to the office to include my husband in the refugee application. But the officers from COMAR realised they had lost our paperwork. They were ashamed of it so they tried to speed up my application.


It was still very stressful because without a refugee status, I had to go to the office to sign once in a while, to ensure my right to stay in Mexico. My 5-year-old son, you know, he runs everywhere. Ahhh……


The officers were very kind to me. They tried their best to help. But normally it takes 3 months to get a refugee status in Mexico; it took almost a year for me. But finally, I got it a year later.


I began working as a freelance stylist, doing keratin treatment on hair for people door by door. I feel grateful to be able to continue doing my passion in Mexico. Before I tried to work at a call center. But with a fixed schedule, my son started to get sick very often. I then quit the job to look after him.


Under lockdown, people are afraid and don’t want this service due to COVID-19. I can’t continue my work. Thank God, my husband still goes to work so we can ensure an income every month. He has worked as a delivery driver at the Coca cola company since he arrived here.


My everyday life under lockdown? It’s just like this, exactly what you see in front of the phone camera. This is our living room, our kitchen, our dining room. Children schooling is a big issue. The school asked us to print out textbooks for kids but I don’t have a printer here. I need to accompany my son all the time, like this, you see.


Every day he jumps up to me and wants to play. Today he is Spiderman.

It’s very hard, and sometimes I feel very upset. It’s more tiring being under lockdown than going out to work. I don’t have my space. I need to have a break in the bathroom when I feel too overwhelmed.


Since 13 of March, I have only gone out twice as my husband got very tired after work. I was so terrified to go out. Would I get infected? Would my son and husband get infected? It was very, very heavy even just a few minutes walking outside.


Also, my brother got COVID-19 in Barcelona and my mom has had to isolate and was not able to see him. My relatives in Madrid also got infected. Meanwhile, my aunt in Venezuela has cancer, and there is a lack of medicine, gasoline, and electricity.


For us, we like to say,
“we don’t get killed by COVID-19, but by oil.”

It was a very rough time for us. But I like to use this metaphor - this vaina (slang for situation) is a roller coaster - sometimes you’re up and then you’re down. I call my family and try to encourage them when I'm in the high part of the roller coaster [laughs].


Fortunately, my brother and relatives in Madrid have recovered.


Music helps me not to see the negative side of fleeing home. I play different songs regarding my mood. There are days that I play Juan Luis Guerra, another Los Ángeles Azules, Venezuelan music, and sometimes even children's songs.





I also read and dance a lot at home under lockdown. I teach my son Venezuelan dance and we dance all around the apartment every day. Now he can recognize a few songs! I also recorded some videos of us dancing and sent them to my family.


Everyone is like wowwww, we want to dance with you two together!

You want to see my video? Oh, but I wore pajamas. Is that okay?


I believe my dance can be an emotional support for my loved ones in Spain, Miami, and Venezuela.

I love Mexico so much. Obviously, we share a similar culture and we get a lot of support from the people here, especially for my son in school. I could take my son to school soon after I arrived in Mexico. He also got a scholarship to study.


And you know, once the school held a Venezuelan week, just for my son! He is the only Venezuelan in class. He is so happy! I’m grateful for my decision. We’re Latino, people here are very kind to me.


After leaving home, I realise, we don’t have to try to be better. We don’t have to overask for ourselves, to be a better mother, or a better person.
We can be who we are.

Under lockdown in Mexico for three months, I want to say, it has been very hard, however right now I am thankful for all I have.

And we have to hug each other.
Remember to hug everyone before everything.

Post-interview notes:


When we were chatting with Maria, her son interrupted the video call a few times. We ended up playing a Spiderman game with him——pointing towards each other by activating our webbing. Maria always tries to encourage her mother, who is alone in Spain, and her aunt and rest of her family in Venezuela through music, dance and words. In spite of the tough situations she has been through, Maria has a beautiful and optimistic spirit.


After the interview, she sent us a video of her dancing with her son at home, and she is so passionate about introducing Venezuelan music and culture to us.



肢體之間的連結很重要。我想擁抱我的兒子、
我的母親、我的家人、我的朋友、我的兄弟、我的丈夫。

記得在一切之前,擁抱每個人。

我是Maria Fernanda,四十一歲,來自委內瑞拉。我和我的丈夫、五歲大的兒子住在墨西哥城的郊區。

我與我的兒子在二零一八年的十月九日抵達墨西哥城,在同一年的十月十四日申請庇護。一年後,我的難民身份得到了批准。

在委內瑞拉剛開始爆發政治和經濟危機時,我還在那裡。我媽媽和我的一個哥哥在西班牙,還有其他的家庭成員在邁阿密。我的家人散落在世界的各個角落。他們擔憂我的安全,希望我儘快離開委內瑞拉。當時我還在等待拿到護照。

離開委內瑞拉的前幾天,我真的好害怕,因為我必須離開我的朋友、我的狗和我認識的人。我來自委內瑞拉一個很小的鎮,而現在將要搬到一個大城市。這使我感到恐懼。

這個決定是為了我兒子。
我希望他安全並能繼續上學。

你知道嗎?我在委內瑞拉自己開了一間店——一家已經十年的美容院!在我經營事業的期間,我經常會到委內瑞拉的各處旅行。

造型師是我十年的專業與熱情,但我必須把所有的東西都留在那。

我的丈夫不想跟我一起走,因為他不想離開委內瑞拉,我們差點因此離婚。和其他許多女人一樣,我只給他兩個選擇:「讓我走,不然結束我們的婚姻!」

最後,他讓我帶著兒子離開了委內瑞拉。我並沒有去到西班牙因為我聽說那裡比較困難取得庇護申請,比起墨西哥。但是,當我有第一次難民身份的面談時,他們換了政府。

所有事情都停滯了,也包括墨西哥難民援助機構 (Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid, COMAR)。我並不知道該怎麼辦去應對政府的換代。同時,我的丈夫差點在委內瑞拉被殺,現在他也別無選擇,只能離開委內瑞拉。我們到 COMAR ,讓我的丈夫可以被一起納入難民的申請。但是單位的人員發現他們丟了我們的文件。他們覺得很抱歉,所以試著加快我們的申請。

但這仍然是非常有壓力的,因為沒有難民身份,我必需要一段時間就要去簽到,確保我待在墨西哥的權利。我五歲的兒子,你知我知道的,他都到處亂跑,哎呀......

機構的人員對我非常好。他們盡其所能的幫忙我。但是通常在墨西哥獲得難民身份需要三個月,而我花了將近一年的時間。但一年後我總算拿到了。

我開始以自由髮型設計師的身份工作,一戶ㄧ戶為人們做角蛋白護髮,我很高興能夠在墨西哥延續我的熱情。在這之前,我嘗試在客服中心工作,有固定的上班時間。但我兒子變得經常生病,我因此辭去了工作以照顧他。

封城時期,人們很害怕,不會想要護髮,我的工作因此停掉了。感謝上帝,我的丈夫仍在上班,所以我們可以確保每月有一份收入。自從他到這裡以來,他就一直在可口可樂公司擔任送貨員。

封城後,我的日常?就像這樣,和你在手機鏡頭前看到的一樣。這是我們的客廳,我們的廚房,我們的飯廳。孩子教育是一個大問題。學校要求我們為孩子們印出教科書,但我這裡沒有印表機。我需要一直陪伴我兒子,就像這樣,你看。

每天他都跳向我、想玩。今天他是蜘蛛人。

這其實很難,有時候我會覺得很沮喪。比起出門工作,封城的狀態更令我疲累。我沒有自己的空間。當我感到喘不過氣來時,我需要在廁所休息一下。

自三月十三日以來,我只出門了兩次,因為那兩天我丈夫下班後很累。我很害怕出去。我會被感染嗎?我的兒子和丈夫會被感染嗎?真的是非常、非常沉重,即使我只是到外面走幾分鐘。

另外,我的哥哥在巴塞隆納得了 COVID-19,我的母親必須接受隔離,因此無法見到他。我在馬德里的親戚也被感染了。同時,我在委內瑞拉的阿姨得了癌症,但那裡缺少醫藥,汽油和電力。

我們常會這麼說:
「我們不會被 COVID-19 殺死,而會被石油殺死。」

那段時間真的很困難。我很喜歡用這樣的比喻——這種情況很像雲霄飛車——有時後你在高處,有時候在低處。我打給我的家人,試著為他們打氣,在我為在雲霄飛車高處的時候,哈!

幸運的是,我在西班牙的哥哥和親戚都康復了。

音樂讓我不去看見離開家鄉的黑暗面,我會依照自己的心情播放不同的歌曲。有時我會播放 Juan Luis Guerra,其他時候是 Los Ángeles Azules,都是委內瑞拉的音樂,有時我甚至會播兒歌。

在封城狀態下,我在家中也讀很多書,跳很多舞。我教兒子跳委內瑞拉的舞蹈,我們每天都在住處從這邊跳到另一邊。現在他可以辨識出幾首歌了!我還錄製了一些我們一起跳舞的影片,然後發送給我的家人。

每個人都說:哇哇哇,我們也想一起跳舞!

你想看影片呀?哦,但我是穿著睡衣。這樣可以嗎?

我相信我的舞蹈可以在情感上支持我在西班牙、邁阿密和委內瑞拉的親人。

離開家後,我意識到,我們不必試圖變得更好。我們不必對自己過度要求,去成為一個更好的母親或一個更好的人。

我們可以成為我們自己。

在墨西哥封城的三個月以來,我想說,日子一直很艱難,

但是現在,我很感激我擁有的一切。

而我們必須擁抱彼此。

記得在一切之前,擁抱每個人。

訪談後記:

當我們在和 Maria 聊天時,她的兒子打斷我們的對話好幾次。最後我們開始玩起蜘蛛人的遊戲——對著對方吐絲。Maria 總是試著鼓勵她的媽媽,她一個人獨自在西班牙,以及她的阿姨,和她其他在委內瑞拉的家人,透過音樂、舞蹈和文字。即使面對這些困難的情況,Maria 有非常美麗和樂觀的精神。

在訪談結束後,她傳了幾個她和孩子在家跳舞的影片給我們,她也很熱情地和我們介紹委內瑞拉的音樂和文化。

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