Every day, 100 unaccompanied children are apprehended at the US/Mexico border. This is a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions. Raw with the wounds of nearly four decades of civil war, Guatemala is full to the brim with survivors struggling to break free from seemingly perpetual poverty. Per the World Bank, over 75% of Guatemala’s population lives below the poverty line and over 58% in extreme poverty.
The literacy rate of Guatemalans over the age of 15 is just 75% – apart from Haiti, this is the lowest literacy rate in the Western Hemisphere. What’s more, social and cultural prejudices and barriers such as racism, gender discrimination and poverty, show up plainly in these literacy statistics. Indigenous women are the most marginalised in the country – with literacy rates of just 30% alongside high rates of poverty and poor health.
In addition to issues of poverty and literacy, violence is often cited as one of the main reasons for immigration. Violence and crime is rampant in Guatemala and young males are heavily recruited by the “maras” (gangs). Members of the LGBTI community are actively persecuted and discriminated against, by some members of the population as well as institutions, both public and private. To escape discrimination, poverty, abuse and violence, young children and teenagers are migrating at alarming rates.
The promise of a better future to be found in the US stems from a romanticised notion of a better life – high paying wages, luxurious homes and an easy life. These perceptions are accentuated by films and television, relatives’ stories of life in the US and unrealistic expectations of wealth. However, not all these perceptions are the only real reasons for migrating.
The decision to migrate for many people is not an easy one. They are leaving their homes, families and friends to explore a “what if” scenario in a city or in a foreign land. They evaluate the potential benefits of migrating while not knowing full well the risks associated with this decision.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people embark on a treacherous journey in hopes of a better future seeking the American Dream. Unbeknownst to them, danger lurks in every corner of this journey – gangs, violence, rape and even death. For most, this is a forced decision. A decision based on fear, threats, desperation, frustration and lack of options.
The Imperfect Hope seeks to bring attention to the current crisis of Guatemalan Unaccompanied Immigrant Children migrating to the United States pursuing the “American Dream”. The story highlights the human factor of this phenomena, their hopes, dreams and challenges they face on their lives and their motivations to embark on a treacherous journey to the US. This film takes an intimate look at the human struggle of migration, from disjointed families to imprisonment.
This documentary will serve as an educational tool to potential migrants, local authorities and civil society groups to discourage the illegal immigration to the United States by presenting the danger, abuse and extreme circumstances that the journey represents to unaccompanied immigrant children. Parents and legal guardians need to be informed and evaluate the real danger and life threatening situations these children face.
To provide growth opportunities, the documentary is being developed in conjunction with the Pro DesarrolloPro Foundation in Guatemala. The Foundation, as their prime objective, the education – through technology- of the most disadvantaged segments of the Guatemalan population to generate growth opportunities. The documentary will be used by the Foundation to advance their charter of education and development of the Guatemalan youth.