“M” is a high school student but this is not his “first-day-of-school” photo.
“M” traveled alone to the US from Central America a few years ago. He has one more year of high school and is a varsity athlete.
“M” normally resides with a legal guardian (US citizen) in a Western state. What, then, was “M” doing in Atlanta and why did he need hospitality at the meetinghouse?
According to “M” and two of his teachers with whom I (Anton) spoke, “M” was brought here by his guardian and forced to work for one of their relatives for no pay. “M” says after weeks of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his Atlanta employer, he fled from his boss’s home and called the police.
Upon hearing this, “M’s” teachers connected him to the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. One of GLAHR’s member-families agreed to host the teen in their home for a few days. I was also asked to help “M” discern his options.
“M” wanted to get back – not to his guardian, but to his high school and broader support system. “M”, his teachers, and GLAHR finalized a plan to get “M” home. He knew there were risks, but M was determined.
The meetinghouse served as “M’s” refuge during his last two days in Atlanta. Hours before dawn, “M” and I left this place of hospitality and he began his long, two-day journey home.
Today “M” safely arrived where his heart longed to be. “M’s” high school teacher/coach has made room for “M” in their home because they’d already made space for him in their heart.
That’s what hospitality is all about; making room in our homes and meetinghouses so that are hearts may grow bigger.