Hope in Apopka

Tags: Carlos

Posted on January 22, 2010 by None | Post a comment


Apopka, Florida.

We began this morning walking just off the outskirts of Orlando. During our first stop at a local coffee shop to use the restrooms, while waiting for my turn, I could hear some of the employees behind the counter whispering and smiling to themselves. Immediately, I thought to myself that they must have seen us the day before on the local news channel. So I approached the counter and started explaining to them the walk. Soon enough they offered all six of us free coffee! They were so blown away with our courage and with our community efforts that they gave us $40 bucks in donations to the cause. I told Felipe it would be pretty awesome if we got that kind of greeting every place we walked into, because we definitely need the money.

Approximately, after walking five miles, we stopped around 11:00AM in order to go make a congressional visit and an interview. Yesterday, we visited the offices of a couple of House Representatives and Florida’s two Senators, Sen. LeMieux and Sen. Nelson (Read Juan’s Blog y/day). Gaby and Felipe went to do an interview with the local Univision channel, while Juan, Andrea, and I went to Rep. Mica’s office. That visit was rather short; nonetheless, it was productive as usual. Rep. Mica’s immigration advisor had a tough stance on immigration, but we were able to get her to understand that deporting millions is simply unrealistic.

After eating lunch at nearby park, we convened ourselves, and we headed out to the Hope Community Center in Apopka, FL. I was in complete surprise when we arrived to find so many young leaders from the community. Most of them are the teenage children of the local farmworkers in the area. I was so happy to know that at least these kids where fighting to get their voices heard and were representing their migrant communities. They were seriously challenging the fear of being undocumented. I never had that same opportunity in high school because I was so scared to tell anyone about my situation; mostly because I really didn’t know anyone else in my shoes. Their passion for human rights and their sheer energy excited us all. Afterwards, we began walking around 4:00PM with about 40 of those youth leaders. It was quite an amazing sight! We got car honks left and right, and a lot of laughter and joy from the experience.

At the end of the night, after dinner, we went to the house of the local nuns that manage the Hope Community Center to take showers. It was by far the highlight of the day. I have never sat down with Sisters in the struggle. Their perseverance for justice, solidarity with our cause, and funny sense of humor by far exceeded my expectations here in Apopka! I am especially sure that I am going to miss Sister Ann after we leave town. She is just such an amazing individual and it was a privilege to learn from them. It is always interesting to see people can make such an impact in the lives of so many people and transform entire communities.

In solidarity,

Carlos Roa


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Posted by: Taryn Garland on Feb. 22, 2010, 7:47 p.m.

This is a belated response to this post, but Apopka is thinking of you all. We are doing our best to raise money to join you in D.C. Our energy persists here and is hopefully reaching you all in some way during your journey. With admiration, Taryn Garland