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WorldThe story behind the photo of the little girl crying in the migrant caravan

11:31  08 november  2018
11:31  08 november  2018 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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He had been photographing the American migrant crisis for Getty Images since the end of the The emotions surging through the women and children were already leaking behind his camera lens. There was something about the way she held the girl , the nervous energy in their physical bond, that

When I saw this little girl break down in tears I wanted to comfort this child. “But as a photojournalist we sometimes have to keep photographing when things are hard,” he The iconic photograph of the little girl crying was the last photo Moore took that night. “And after I shot this picture, I had to stop

The story behind the photo of the little girl crying in the migrant caravan© Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post Camila Savioll Mejia, 4, cries and refuses to walk any farther in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico, on Oct. 29. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

The migrant caravan came alive one morning last week with a rustle of plastic tarps being taken down and packed. A crowd gathered well before dawn.

Near the back of that crowd stood Keila Savioll Mejia. Two weeks earlier, the shy 21-year-old had left home in Honduras to join the caravan with her 2-year-old and 4-year-old daughters. She listened as organizers announced that two trucks were available to take women and children from Tapanatepec to the next stop, 33 miles away.

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The widely shared photo of the little girl crying as a U.S. Border Patrol agent patted down her mother became a symbol of the families pulled apart by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border, even landing on the new cover of Time magazine.

Mejia thought about rushing forward to claim the last spot. Both of her daughters were sick and Camila, the oldest, was tired of walking. But she said she worried they would be crushed or suffocated in the throng. So she let others climb into the back of the truck, which soon overflowed with about three dozen people.

“There are no more trucks,” an organizer said over a loudspeaker. “Let's go.”

And with that, Mejia and her daughters set off on foot.

President Trump has portrayed the migrant caravan as a monolithic threat, a mass of “terrorists” intent on “invading” the United States. In reality, the caravan is a collection of individuals and families, each with their own story. And few were worse off than Mejia.

As she carried 2-year-old Samantha through the streets of Tapanatepec, she saw several families with sturdy strollers they had bought for 900 pesos — around $45 — at the Mexico-Guatemala border. Others were flimsy, held together with tape or twine. One father pushed his 5-year-old son in a donated wheelchair.

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Getty Images photographer John Moore’s heartbreaking image of a two-year-old Honduran asylum-seeker crying for her mother at the U.S.-Mexico border has

Photo . The caravan migrants speaking with Mexican immigration officials. Continue reading the main story . Photo . Migrants rested Wednesday at a temporary camp in the Mexican town of With little access to news or social media among the caravan members, word of Mr. Trump’s fixation on

Mejia had nothing, not even a baby carrier.

The story behind the photo of the little girl crying in the migrant caravan© Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post Keila Savioll Mejia, 21, holds her daughter Samantha, 2, left, as Johana Hernandez, 16, center, watches 4-year-old Camila. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

By the time the caravan reached the edge of town, Mejia’s thin arms already ached from carrying her toddler. So mother and daughters rested under a tree.

Mejia wore pink plastic slippers so thin they were like walking in bare feet. The girls wore sandals that were hardly any better. Besides a few donated diapers friends carried for them, all their belongings fit into a tiny “Mafalda” bag on Mejia’s back.

Soon, they were back on their feet, Samantha on Mejia’s shoulders and Camila holding hands with Bessi Zelaya, a friend from Peña Blanca.

As they walked through the pre-dawn darkness, the silence was broken every few minutes by the buzz of approaching motorcycle taxis. The tiny three-wheel vehicles would pull up, and half a dozen migrants would pile in, paying a few Mexican pesos to get a little closer to the next stop.

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The photo of the little girl crying as a U.S Many speculated that the girl may have been ultimately separated from her mother, like the more than 2,300 migrant children split from their parents since May 5. A Time story recounting the photographer’s experience initially stated the girl was carried away

A photo of a crying Honduran girl used as a symbol of the Trump administration's policy of separating undocumented migrant children from their parents Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal stood by the overall reporting behind the magazine's cover story and the larger issues represented by Moore's

But Mejia didn’t have a few pesos.

In Peña Blanca she had made 100 lempiras — about $4 — a day selling tortillas. The girls' father had left them long ago, so they lived with Mejia’s mother and siblings in a small cinder block house.

When she heard of the caravan forming in San Pedro Sula just 50 miles away, Mejia borrowed 500 lempiras from a friend, packed her daughter’s backpack and boarded a bus to the capital. By the time they caught up to the caravan a few days later, Mejia had spent half her money on bus fare. She quickly used the rest to buy food for the girls.

“We've had to walk ever since,” she said.

As young men strode past and another overloaded mototaxi sped away, an organizer in a yellow traffic vest issued a warning to those falling behind.

“Hurry up,” he said, “or immigration will grab you.”

The fear was real. The sheer size of the caravan made it difficult for Mexican authorities to stop. But small groups that had split off had reportedly been detained and deported. The same could happen to stragglers.

Camila, her tiny legs already exhausted, collapsed to the ground. The girl closed her eyes.

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The photo was taken June 12 in McAllen, Texas, by Getty Images photographer John Moore. Moore told CNN that he briefly spoke with the girl ’s They rafted across the Rio Grande and were detained before being sent to a Border Patrol processing center for possible separation. It’s part of the Trump

The Story Behind the Photos of a Little Girl at the Border You're Seeing Everywhere. A two-year-old girl in a bright pink shirt is crying . On CNN , Moore said he had been taking photographs of border patrol and observing migrants attempting to cross the border in the middle of the night.

The story behind the photo of the little girl crying in the migrant caravan© Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post An exhausted Camila collapses to the ground. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

“Camila!” Mejia said sharply.

“Arriba,” said Zelaya, lifting her onto the shoulders of Fernando Reyes Enamorado, a neighbor from Peña Blanca. Camila drooped over the 19-year-old’s head.

They continued walking, but when they stopped at a house where the owners had brought out a jug of water for the migrants, Camila refused to get up. Mejia splashed the girl in the face with water, but she just sat on the ground, kicking off her sandals and beginning to cry.

“Levántate,” Mejia told her. “Get up.”

A family with a stroller went past. Then another, and another. Flashing lights in the distance behind them were a reminder that if they fell far enough behind, their journey could be over in an instant.

Strangers stopped to offer to carry Camila, but the girl refused to let anyone touch her.

The story behind the photo of the little girl crying in the migrant caravan© Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post Keila Savioll Mejia carries her two daughters during the caravan. If they fell too far behind, they risked being detained and deported. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

Minutes passed as Samantha cried and Camila screamed and the caravan kept going without them. Friends disappeared into the distance. Dawn began to break. Soon the sun would rise, and the temperature would climb to nearly 100 degrees.

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Verónica G. Cárdenas tells the story behind her photos of the migrants traveling to the U.S.: "I The caravan offers major protection against such dangers, although migrants are still at danger on I am at a privileged position and perhaps I did not go through what migrants in the caravans go

So Mejia did the only thing she could: She lifted both girls — one over each shoulder — and started walking.

Within a few minutes, she had caught up with the others where the road met a highway. Migrants slept in the ditch as they waited for trucks on which to catch a ride.

Mejia set the girls down and handed them candy to keep them awake.

But as vehicles approached, it was the young men who always reacted first. They climbed atop oil tankers and leaped aboard moving container trucks.

The story behind the photo of the little girl crying in the migrant caravan© Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post Keila Savioll Mejia and her daughters receive a much-needed lift when a local television reporter offers them a ride. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

So Mejia started walking again, Samantha in her arms and Camila flailing unhappily at her side.

But then their luck suddenly changed. As she passed a red car belonging to a Televisa news crew, the cameraman recognized her.

Paco Santana, a TV anchorman, had interviewed Mejia a few days earlier and had given her a lift. Now he offered to do so again.

“I wish I could take you all like last time, but I have a woman who is very pregnant,” he told Zelaya and Mejia’s other friends.

“No, no, no,” said Ana Velazquez, 36, who was traveling with her 16-year-old daughter. “What we want is for her to get a ride because the little girl doesn’t like to walk.”

“Well,” Santana said, turning to Mejia. “What do you think?”

The story behind the photo of the little girl crying in the migrant caravan© Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post Samantha Savioll Mejia, 2, peaks out the window of a car belonging to the Televisa news crew while sitting on her mother's lap. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

She looked at her friends. Then she looked at her daughters.

“Do you want to go in the car, like the other day?” Santana asked Camila and Samantha.

With shouts of excitement, her daughters made the decision for her.

“I don’t have cookies this time,” Santana said, opening the door of his car, where the pregnant woman and her partner were already waiting for a ride. “Should we go get some?”

And then it was on to the next town, the single mother’s odyssey over — at least for another day.

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