Daniela's story: Honoring my roots to write my own story

By Global Fund for Children | September 13, 2022 | The Americas | Youth Empowerment

This guest blog post was written by Daniela, who participates in the programs of GFC partner Homies Unidos. It is also available in Spanish.

Daniela, 17, shares her story of finding a sense of community in Los Angeles through GFC partner Homies Unidos.

Thanks to Homies Unidos, I have been able to accept my life as a migrant girl. When I arrived, I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, but now I have found a community that understands me.

My name is Daniela. I’m 17 years old, and I’m from Guatemala, Korea, and the United States. I love having such diverse roots. They make me feel unique and special.

Even though we had shortcomings, my childhood was very happy. I grew up surrounded by strong women. My grandmother and my mom taught me to fight for my dreams. From them I learned to always raise my voice in the face of injustice.

The situation in Guatemala was becoming increasingly difficult for us. The violence was out of control. My family opened a small business, and we began to receive threats, so we decided to migrate to the United States in search of a better future.

Many times, people think that one migrates out of ambition, to get rich. We just wanted to have peace, to not be so scared.

When I got to Los Angeles, it was very difficult at first. There was a lot of discrimination. We felt like intruders all the time.

I felt lost. I felt that despite having so much richness in my roots, I didn’t belong anywhere.

Daniela posing at a film festival

Daniela participating in the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF). © Daniela

Then I met Homies Unidos, because they conducted workshops at my school. I was surprised to see that I wasn’t the only one who felt lost, that there were many young people like me who had stopped recognizing themselves.

Many of them resorted to violence and gangs to feel that they had a refuge. A safe place. And in the end, they lost everything.

With Homies, I learned that to belong you first need to know and honor your roots. I learned to feel proud to be Latina. Of the joy of our people, of how we take care of our families.

At the same time, I found the strength to question what I didn’t like. I began to challenge those stereotypes that say because I am a woman, that I am worth less or that I have to depend on a man.

Homies Unidos taught me that I can honor my roots, and, at the same time, ask questions, break cycles of violence, and write my own story. And that there are people who support me and take care of me along the way. I found my community. A new family.

I would like to work in the film industry, to tell more stories that recognize the contribution and richness of the Latino community. I want to be a leader in my community and inspire other young people to fulfill their dreams.

To other young people like me, I say that you are not alone. Fight for your dreams and always work with love, passion, and care. You have the right to belong and be happy wherever you are.

 


 

In Los Angeles, Homies Unidos works with young people like Daniela to prevent gang violence, empower youth, and promote human rights in immigrant communities. Homies Unidos is a member of Global Fund for Children’s Girls Experiencing Migration initiative, supported by a grant from Comic Relief US / Red Nose Day in 2021.

Comic Relief US / Red Nose Day is committed to working toward its vision of a just world free from poverty. That means funding amazing projects and organizations closest to the people with experience of the issues, as well as expanding its role as an influencing organization, amplifying partners’ voices and drawing on evidence and learning to achieve deeper change.

Header image: Daniela taking a walk in Los Angeles, her new home. © Daniela

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