By Edilma Franco
Special to The CS&T

A Bolivian mother that I know immigrated to the United States nine years ago because her family’s situation in her country was not the best. She and her husband made the difficult decision to come when their son was only 5 years old. Her husband arrived a year before her, found a job here and was able to send money so that she could come here with him.

After some time – her husband had sent her more than $8,000 – she arrived here, with the dream of beginning a new life and having no problems supporting her son, who she left in Bolivia.

It was difficult for them to get ahead. They were both able to find jobs, but after a couple of years they separated; she was left here, alone, with a 4-year-old son. This single mother did not know what resources existed to help her, and she spent a long time looking in vain and knocking on doors that wouldn’t open.

One day she came across an ad for a place where she could learn to work with computers and get her G.E.D. She completed the courses, and now she feels happy and thankful to be in this country, where she was given the opportunity to better herself and help her two children.

Listening to this story, we see that immigrant mothers encounter specific obstacles upon arriving in this country. First, they need economic resources to get ahead, and these, generally, are scarce. Further, many mothers struggle to communicate because English is not their first language. They do not know what help is available, nor do they understand how to look for it, because they do not know English.

The Social Justice Committee of the Office of the Vicar for Hispanic Catholics of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is preparing a survey, to be distributed in the near future, about services that exist in the Archdiocese to help immigrants. The committee would like to create a communication network so that immigrants are more easily able to find resources and organizations that exist in their own neighborhood.

I would like to invite all to participate in this work, and I encourage us all to familiarize ourselves with the private, public and religious organizations that provide help in our communities. United, we can live together and achieve our dreams.

For more information about the survey or the work of the Social Justice Committee, call Edilma at 215-426-9422.

Edilma Franco is a member of the Social Justice Committee of the Office of the Vicar for Hispanic Catholics.