As I near the completion of my first month volunteering at Taller de José, it is amazing to think of how many diverse cases I have faced with clients in such a short amount of time. This past month has shown me how the ministry of accompaniment impacts our clients and the way that we as an organization work together. One of my first clients sticks out in my mind as I think of the pure spirit of the ministry of accompaniment and how I have experienced this thus far. Alma has been in Chicago for eleven years by herself. She works nights at a factory here in Illinois but still made it to Taller for an appointment first thing in the morning. Alma is in the process of obtaining a U-Visa and needed to go to the Daley Center for a certified disposition as the next step toward gaining this type of Visa. As I was running around asking my coworkers questions about what rooms we should go to in the Daley Center and what we need, Alma’s patience and continuous smile reassured me that we were in this together and we will work it out.
Alma is alone here in Chicago while her children reside in Mexico. She said a number of times throughout our appointment that her goal is to be able to go back to see her family. While telling me more about her story on our walk to the train, Alma explained she had been abused by someone here that she thought she could trust. She said it escalated in such a way that her abuser would not let her leave the house and was extremely controlling over her life. Her courage to leave, get an order of protection, and establish a new life was so inspiring, and her strength was very evident despite the extremely vulnerable state she had been in for so long. Her open spirit allowed me to feel open and comfortable with her as well, so while I was working on navigating the Daley Center and trying to get her the right forms, I felt like we were actually accompanying one another. We went to a number of different parts of the Daley Center before we found someone that was able to help us, and in that time, it truly felt that we had already known each other for years. She kept saying thank you to me while I was thanking her for her patience with this whole process. We were each other’s compañeras during this trip downtown, and her personal story and strength were so inspiring. Alma serves as the reminder that I am in a ministry that I belong in.