Bryan started at TomboyX as an intern through a program with YouthCare. We quickly found out that he was a kind-hearted, quick-study and we asked him to continue working with us. Bryan is not your typical intern; he walked/hitchhiked/bussed from Honduras to America by himself when he was 14-years-old. He sat down with us to share his immigration story and his hopes for the future.
Tell us about where you grew up.
I grew up in the capitol of Honduras. I didn’t get along well with my family and there was a lot of violence and drugs in the neighborhood. When I was little I saw someone get shot in front of my house and it was a reason I ran away at age 7. I went through several homes and found an orphanage at age 9 where I lived for 5 years. For me, I am my own dad, mom, brother. I raised myself. I was never into drug and never into gangs, but gangs would tell me they’d be the family I never had, but I knew that was a lie. One day, I was chatting with one of my friends at my group house and we got the idea to cross over to USA. We wanted to try for the American dream and once I had the dream inside of me I couldn’t let it go.
How did you get to America?
I tried once with my friend, but I only made it to Guatemala. The second time, I set out by myself. I started going to outdoor markets to beg for money and I earned enough for a bus ticket to Cortez. I spent time by the water in Cortez and sat down and cried, thinking this would be my last time in my country.
I had $1 left and an empty stomach. I bought chips at a gas station and met someone who took me to the border crossing of Guatemala. From there, I started walking. With no map or plan, all I knew was I should head North.
I walked, hitchhiked, and took a bus when I could find money and I made it to the border of Mexico/Guatemala. I had no idea where to go, but I saw mountains with trees and shade, so I climbed a few miles and found a path. I crossed into Mexico with nothing but a backpack with my favorite tee.
I was in Mexico for a month before I crossed the border into Laredo, Texas. The US Border Patrol caught me almost immediately and took me to Houston. They placed me in a program for immigrants. I turned 15 in that program.
What happened after you got to America?
I was sent to Seattle to Friends of Youth and I tried to learn some English. I was also able to meet with a psychologist and I learned a few tips to learn to control my anger. When I left the program I was homeless on the streets in Seattle for two years and I stopped going to school.
YouthCare stepped in and helped me get an apartment in Kent with a roommate. YouthCare has helped me find internships and helped place me with TomboyX. I really like working here and I feel comfortable.
One of Bryan's drawings.
Tell me about your interest in art. What other things do you like to do?
I started doodling in school. My first dream was to be an Air Force pilot and I started drawing tiny pictures of the army. I would draw instead of pay attention in class. My teacher told me that I really had the skill for art and suggested I go to art school. The violence in Honduras didn’t allow me to go out at night so I couldn’t go to after school art classes.
I also played football when I moved here. I was a running back at school here.
What are your goals for the future?
I just want to stay in the country. I don’t want to go back to Honduras. I have nothing there. I’d just go back and lose my life. I want a better future and my own family. I want to get married, get a good job, and finish school.
I don’t have big dreams, I just want to be happy. I want to give myself the life I never had when I was in Honduras. I don’t need to be rich, but I want enough money to pay my bills.
I also wanted to be better at drawing. I hope I can be an inspiration.
Learn more about the great work YouthCare is doing to support homeless youths in Seattle.
*Bryan is not a native English speaker. The story is his own, but it has been edited for clarity.