Stories of Change

First photo (above): Alejandra and her girlfriend Sabrina. Second photo (Below): Alejandra

Alejandra’s Story of Courageous Love

Trigger Warning: This story contains mentions of suicide

In celebration of love, we are excited to highlight Alejandra, a 29-year-old from El Savador. In her home country, Alejandra worked as a photographer. She took photos of students at schools, specializing in educational photography. During her photography days, she met her girlfriend, Sabrina. The money Alejandra earned from photography helped them make ends meet.

In El Salvador, Alejandra and Sabrina, couldn’t be open about their relationship due to societal non-acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. They often told people they were just friends living together. When their families found out about their relationship, they faced poor treatment.

Sabrina attended school in El Salvador and worked in a factory as well. Everything was fine until her employer discovered she was in a queer relationship, leading to her being fired. This emotional and financial strain prompted her to make the difficult decision to travel to the U.S. by foot. They had always planned to reunite in the U.S. if one of them arrived first. 

Luckily, Alejandra applied for refugee status before entering the U.S., and her asylum case was granted. They plan to get married soon to fully live their lives together. They have now been together for 14 years. Sabrina has been in the U.S. for a year, while Alejandra has only been here for three months. They came to the U.S. seeking more freedom and opportunities. 

“Our future goals are to be stable both emotionally and financially. We want to have our own house either here in New York or anywhere else in the U.S., wherever we can. We want to have stable jobs so that we can actually go out and buy things.” Leaving the country was not an easy move for either of them.

“We would love to reunite with our pets that are back home and of course, have children, get married, live without fear and with freedom and have more opportunities. We want to keep learning, get better jobs and learn new languages. Our goal is just to be happy,” Alejandra stated.

Alejandra recalls the difficulties they faced in El Salvador. “There was one time Sabrina was in a hospital, I could not say we were in a relationship during my visit to her hospital bed, I had to say she was my friend.” They were often looked down upon. Now, in the U.S., it is easier to openly say, “This is my girlfriend.” 

Like many other newly arrived immigrants, Alejandra connected to Church World Service in New York. “Our Church World Service case manager has helped us immensely to adjust to life here. She’s helped us with transportation to appointments, getting enrolled in SNAP, and enrolling in English classes which we attend every Monday. Most importantly, she’s helped us feel comfortable and we’ve been able to lean on her. Anytime we need something, we just call her and she helps us.”

Alejandra and Sabrina are sharing their story to help others who are in the situation they were in. “We have to be there for the people who still have not been able to express their emotions and their orientation. We need to be a voice for these individuals who may feel depressed, don’t have anyone to speak with, and may seek out harmful solutions such as suicide. There will always be difficult moments, but at the end of the day, we need to be strong to keep moving forward.”

“I just want to say thank you because this is a dream that I never thought I would get to live. I want people in my community to know that there are opportunities to move forward, they do exist, you just need to find them. I want them to know that you can be surrounded by people who accept you and will help you, don’t give up. I want them to know about these opportunities so that they can live a different life.”

The story of Alejandra and Sabrina is a powerful reminder of love and the importance of finding a community where acceptance and support are available.

To learn more about CWS New York, visit their website.