It’s a Friday morning and, as at any other school, children are cutting paper, drawing, reading aloud and playing with friends. There’s some shouting and pushing too, and their teacher patiently arranges the desks and gives instructions. What’s unusual is the setting: the inside of a passenger bus that has been converted into a classroom.
The school is part of the Yes We Can Mobile Schools project of the Yes We Can World Foundation, a nonprofit formed to support migrant children trapped on Mexico’s northern border while they wait for U.S. authorities to accept or deny their asylum applications.
The effort was brought to life by Estefania Rebellón, a Los Angeles actor who knows the pain and uncertainty of being an asylum seeker. Eighteen years ago, at age 10, she fled her native Colombia after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as FARC, threatened to kill her family.
“One day, my parents were waiting for me outside of school and took me home. On the way, they told me we had to leave,” she recalled.
The family abandoned their house in a prosperous neighborhood in the city of Cali, and her parents gave up their work as well-known lawyers. “Without understanding what was going on, I put some clothes in a suitcase, a doll, and nothing else. My life and my memories stayed there,” Rebellón said.
Exiled overnight, within a matter of days her family was in Miami and soon sought asylum with U.S. authorities.