Podcast Season 2: Hunger & Resilience

S2: Episode 25 - Elsa

Episode Information

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Hunger and Resilience, narrative histories about the complexity and experiences of hunger. A traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, executive director. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice. Episode 25, Elsa.

Elsa: (English translation) Growing up, we’re all like little spiders. You grab your web to defend yourself from hunger and poverty. That signifies poverty to me. I remember my childhood very well. We were poor. We didn’t have enough to eat. I got polio when I was six months old. They put the blame on my dad because he didn’t think of me like my mother. Also, she left and abandoned us. My dream was to study something to be something when I was still 16. It was the last time my father hit me.

I met my husband at the same ranch where I grew up. When his parents asked for my hand in marriage, the bomb exploded. My dad was furious because they were poor people and also his family. His brothers did not accept it because I was like this with my foot. They said I wasn’t worth anything. My wedding wasn’t very elegant. It was simple. I did feel special that day, but at the same time, I felt sad because I knew what was waiting for me.

When Ana was born in February, it was very cold. Sometimes we didn’t even have milk to give her. I thought the best option was to come to the United States. I crossed over the bridge at eight in the morning and they crossed at four in the morning. My husband swimming in the water and my daughter in a little boat. At the beginning, we lived below a tree and we got a mattress from the dump from the trash so that we could sleep. We had hunger in us, and I would cry and cry and didn’t know what to do when we didn’t have food. We were just waiting to see what would happen. My husband would go out to work and he would come back in the afternoon. If he’d worked that day, good. If not, we would have to keep waiting. I can’t explain it. The hunger. I can’t. My family is the most important thing I have in this life. What has happened to me since the beginning? I can’t blame anybody that’s destiny, and we need to keep moving.

[Outro Music]

Host:  During the years I worked on this project, I heard many words like blinding, feeling nothing, just nothing. Paralyzing, rage, the uncertainty, embarrassment, shame, worse than you can ever imagine. One person told me that hunger feels like being behind a glass wall that separates you from the rest of the world, from what felt normal and ordered to another place. Elsa and her family lived on the border between two countries, but had no standing, no documents, no freedom to enter either one. We had the privilege of spending two days with Elsa and her family. We connected her to a local food bank and to other resources. I wanna thank Elsa for her gentleness, her determination, her beautiful family, her story, and her presence. Stories are places where empathy and understanding begin. You can go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for portraits and transcripts. Thank you so much for listening.