KRLD — “We walked a lot without water, many days we went without food,” says Jose Luis Zelaya, who made the long and treacherous journey into Texas through the deserts of Mexico when he was about 13.
“The reason you are without food is because, if you eat, your body requires more water, but if you have no water in the desert, many times you result to drinking the river water or drinking from [cattle tanks].”READ MORE: Day 2 Of The State Fair Of Texas Brings Visitors Fun, Football & Fried Food
Zelaya left his home country of Honduras — where he was a beggar on the streets — to escape an abusive father and to find his mother who had crossed into Houston illegally about a year earlier.
He says that when he wasn’t walking through the desert, he was riding on top of freight trains, which are often used by Mexican drug cartels for smuggling.
“And these trains known as ‘The Beast’ are a very dangerous place to be. Not only are these trains traveling at 40 MPH, but on top of these trains you have gang members who are raping children, who are stealing children,” says Zelaya. “I’ve experienced little girls just being physically abused in front of my eyes — and you can’t say anything! You just can’t! Because these people have weapons in front of you.”