From Africa to the Valley.
A woman’s worldwide search for survival has led her to a shelter in San Benito.
“Running away from death. Running away for your life,” said the woman, who asked to be called Shalom for the purpose of this story.
It started in the 2013 Zimbabwe elections when Shalom worked as an organizer for a youth rally.
“So we got beaten by the ruling party, by the members of the ruling party,” she said.
Shalom took her two children and left her home village, but didn’t realize she was being followed.
Shalom tells CBS 4 that in 2017, two men of the ruling party tracked her down in a nearby town and sexually assaulted her.
“Then they did what they did to me in front of the kids. They were told not to cry or they will kill me.”
The men left her for dead, but it was the voice of one of her children that brought her out of an unconscious state.
“When I woke up, he told me, ‘Mom, who was that?’ They’re gone. They didn’t kill you.'”
Shalom knew she had to flee her country or face the threat of being killed, but with no money or a passport, that task seemed impossible.
The movement for democratic change helped Shalom get enough money, as well as proper documents to escape to Ireland.
When Shalom arrived, however, she was told she couldn’t seek asylum due to not having a passport and was once again on another plane.
Confused and stressed, Shalom asked the flight crew where she was going.
“Where are you going? Are you not going back to Africa? They said, ‘No, we are going to [the] United States. We’ll sort you out when you get there.'”
Shalom arrived in Los Angeles and was able to seek asylum in the U.S, but it was while she was detained that she discovered shocking news.
“That’s when I found out that I was pregnant,” said Shalom. “I didn’t know when I left home. That’s when I learned it was due to the incident that happened.”
Shalom reached out to multiple shelters across the U.S for sponsorship and La Posada Providencia in San Benito chose to help her.
“I don’t even know how they got the letter because all the letters that I wrote, I posted them without a stamp,” said Shalom. “So, I don’t know how they received it.”
Now, Shalom has a three-week-old son named Emmanuel Alex and she’s not looking back on the horror she experienced.