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  • Writer's pictureMara Cao

vi. carrying a baby across the desert

We are sitting under the kitchen tent lazily chatting about nothing. Our brains are dazed by the midday heat. Suddenly my friend looks over and we all look toward what she is looking at. A small figure is coming over the hill toward us. We put down our coffees and walk over to the foot of the hill and meet a woman wearing a dress. She is pregnant. We tell her that she is welcomed here, that we are a humanitarian aid group and that she should not be afraid. She is safe here. She understands, smiles and says in Spanish, “Gracias.” We lead her toward the picnic tables and get her water. We ask her if she is hungry. “No.” We insist that she eat something, she must be hungry! She shyly agrees and says she would like some cereal or crackers. We find a small box of Lucky Charms and give her a bowl, spoon, and milk. We ask her if she needs anything, insist that she tell us if she needs anything. She smiles and says, “No. Estoy bien.” She tells us she is 6-months pregnant. She has been walking for 10 days in the desert. She had started the journey with a group in Mexico, but she had started several months ago from Guatemala. A few days ago, la migra in helicopters saw the group, pursued them, came down to kick up a sand storm to disperse them. Since then, she has been walking in the desert alone until she found our camp by luck. I ask her how her baby is doing. She says, the baby is ok. She has been pregnant for 6 months. She feels it kick sometimes when she is walking. She says she thinks it is a girl because she thinks a boy would kick more and would make her feel sicker. But she is not really sure. In her dreams she sees a little girl and she believes this to be her baby. She says she has been pregnant for 6 months. She says the father of the baby is in Oakland and so she is trying to go to Oakland to meet him. He has a job, a room, and a car to drive her and their baby around. We set up a cot for her so she can rest. She asks us for some soap so she can wash her face.

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