Social Issues

Leaving Africa, one gave birth in Honduras, the other lost baby in Panama

By German Reyes

Choluteca, Honduras, May 7 (efe-epa).- They were pregnant when they left Africa, crossing several countries in the Americas trying to get to the United States. Patou Matabinta Diallo and Lubabatu Amadou are two African migrants who met on the journey.

One of them lost her baby in Panama, the other gave birth in Honduras.

Both are part of a group of 254 migrants from Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Cuba and Haiti who have been stranded in Honduras since March after a trek that took most of the Africans via Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. But the adventure has been halted in Honduras by the coronavirus pandemic.

Patou, 26, told EFE at a shelter called El Hogar de la Esperanza (The Household of Hope) in the city of Choluteca that they arrived in the Central American country on March 20 and cannot continue their journey because of travel restrictions amid the pandemic.

“I came from my country because of political problems,” Patou said, speaking in Spanish with a bit of difficulty although she understands the language rather well. She said, without providing details, that she lost her newborn “in Panama on Jan. 24.”

Patou is traveling with her husband, 40-year-old Kode Diaby, and her three-year-old daughter Aicha, a slim and sociable little girl, in a group of 15 Africans now being housed at the shelter, where Honduran adults who have lost their homes also live.

“I want to get to the US or Canada, where I have two brothers,” she said while waiting for her husband to return after he went out “to buy a few things” near the shelter.

Lubabatu “Lu” Amadou, 31, from Ghana, evidently had a shorter journey that ultimately has brought her to Honduras. She traveled directly from her homeland to Ecuador and then through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, arriving in Honduras on March 18, when the country was already under its Covid-19 quarantine, a lockdown that has now been extended until May 17.

Lu, who also arrived with her husband, preferred to just tell EFE, with Patou’s help, her name and that of her daughter, Amira, born March 22 in the Hospital del Sur in Choluteca, thus making the newborn Honduran by law.

There are only three shelters in Choluteca and the people staying there are doing so voluntarily, but there’s not enough space for all 254 migrants so some have had to pay to stay in individual homes, although some say that they don’t have any more money.

At El Hogar de la Esperanza there are five children, including “the Honduran girl,” as people call Amira, and 10 adults, most of them women, who spend their days chatting, taking photos with their mobile phones, dancing or playing in the hallways and on the shelter’s big patio.

The husbands of some of the African women initially had been housed at other centers for the first two weeks of their stay, and there they all received personal health kits and food along with other aid.

They received the assistance from the International Organization for Migration, the distribution of which was coordinated with local institutions, the IOM’s spokesman in Honduras, Ismael Cruceta, told EFE.

Kode returned from his shopping expedition carrying a plastic bag. At first, he didn’t want to speak with EFE but finally he agreed, although off camera.

“We’re here waiting … for the curfew to end … for things to open up so we can get our legal safe conduct passes to continue to the north and for the Honduran government to be able to help us,” he said.

Speaking better Spanish than his wife, Kode said that the pandemic “is in the whole world, not only in Honduras” and that “somehow we have to understand that.” He also said that they know that although they could have made it to the border with Guatemala, they would not have been able to continue because the border “is closed.”

Kode said that he hopes the quarantine in Honduras will end on May 17 and they can move on because the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb in Honduras, with 1,461 confirmed cases and 99 deaths so far.

He said that in Guinea he worked “as a storekeeper” and that in Honduras they’ve been treated “pretty well,” after some initial incidents with many of the migrants and Choluteca authorities over where they would be housed, although that was resolved in part with the “intervention of human rights organizations.”

Regarding his wife, he said that she was “almost seven months pregnant” when they arrived, that the trip caused them “much suffering” and that “we’re only alive thanks to God.”

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