Arriving in the DC area to begin our next project was an interesting feeling — in a really good way. It was probably the most normal and at home we have felt since embarking on this year-long mission, since we were returning to the area where we lived as newlyweds for the previous two years. We were greeted by our good friends, Joe and Abbie, who were graciously opening their home to us for the next week. We visited our home church, The Transit, helping to set up and break down all the equipment in our young church plant that meets at a school on Sunday. Midweek, we attended our old community group/Bible study for a very nostalgic meal we craved during our travels (Gwen’s alfredo sauce and Jonni’s homemade pasta) along with much-needed fellowship. And on the weekend, we re-visited some of our favorite restaurants in the area (like Good Stuff Eatery for burgers and milkshakes) with the company of great friends. It was just like old times and felt like no time at all had passed.
But what brought us back to the area was not due to our own desires; instead, we were brought back to work on a project with an organization called Ayuda. Ayuda is the only non-profit provider in the DC metro area that offers a wide range of immigration and family law assistance, as well as social services support, for all immigrants — including men, women and children — from anywhere in the world. Their comprehensive and open approach gives all immigrants a single resource to go to, and their specialized services for immigrant children and for immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking are truly unique in the area. Ayuda envisions a community where all immigrants overcome obstacles in order to succeed and thrive in the United States, and they realize that vision by advocating for low-income immigrants through direct legal, social and language services, training and outreach in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.
Our job was to document the stories of two people who had received the help of Ayuda, and to produce two videos that captured their hopeful transformations. The first was Wilsone, a young man from Honduras who had been abandoned by his father at an early age and then left with extended family by his mother when she went to find work in the U.S. At the age of 11, his mother paid traffickers to get him across the border and eventually to Virginia, where he attended middle school and high school, excelling in drama and theatre before running into immigration issues. Ayuda was able to help Wilsone get legal residency and a green card so that he can continue to pursue his dreams of being an actor.
The second story was about an Indian woman who was brought to the U.S. after an arranged marriage and was severely abused by her controlling husband. Unaware of her rights and looked down upon by her family for objecting to the marriage, she eventually found Ayuda and received their help through the process of getting a restraining order and eventually a divorce. Ayuda then helped her with her immigration status so that she could find a job, and she has been able to recover tremendously with their help.
We had one shooting day for each video, followed by three editing days to finalize both, and we were really happy with the results, as was Ayuda. We were really inspired by hearing the rough back stories of their clients and seeing first-hand the hope and dignity they have in their lives now, thanks to the amazing staff at Ayuda. If you’re inspired as well, we encourage you to visit their website and look for ways you can get involved and directly support the work of Ayuda.
For more information about their work and how you can support Ayuda, visit their website at www.ayuda.com.