Alfredo (far left) with his cousins in Guatemala

Alfredo (far left) with his cousins in Guatemala

 Alfredo as a child with his father and siblings

Alfredo as a child with his father and siblings

I came to the US over 8 years ago because my mother was in Chicago and my sister was living in California, leaving behind my father, brother, niece & nephew, and cousins. I thought if I came here perhaps I wouldn’t be working as much as I was in Guatemala. I thought perhaps I could get a job, work less, save, and go back and visit but also help support my family - I eventually wanted to go to school as well.  

But when I came here I found life to be very hard, not what I imagined.  I have worked a lot of jobs, from janitor or dishwasher.  I recently was a dishwasher for almost two years at the Capital Grille; there I got paid $8.75 an hour for doing some of the hardest work I’ve ever had to do. On top of getting paid so little, the restaurant stole my wages. They would clock me out about 15-20 minutes every day and over time that really adds up. Also the job restaurant really robbed me of my dignity. It was an abusive workplace where they wouldn’t even allow me to drink water despite working in a very, very hot kitchen. The work was very physically demanding, there were two dishwashers for what felt like thousands and thousands of plates a night. There was just little hope for things to get better, for us to make more, or for us to move up in the restaurant - so we did something about it. While I was there I got together with other co-workers and joined ROC Chicago and we organized to improve our workplace conditions.  I was the leader of my group and the restaurant eventually fired me, they made up some excuse and pushed me out the door to stop the organizing efforts.  

Since then I have been working odd jobs every now and then to make ends meet but I have also gone back to school.  I am trying to improve my English and I really want to work with others to fight for their rights - I don’t think we come to the US to experience this bad treatment.  I also want my niece and nephew to know that education is important, I want to be a good example for them, and I want then to see that even for us it can happen.

While I was working as a dishwasher at Capital Grille I was barely making ends meet but somehow managing to send at least a little money back to Guatemala.  I eat simply, I can’t afford to go out much and have fun, I can’t just walk into a store and get a new outfit. I have to watch every penny.  Since I have been living basically paycheck-to-paycheck for 8 years I haven’t even been able to think about going back to Guatemala, where would the money come from?  Going back to Guatemala sounds like a dream, it is not something I thought I’d be able to do.

I have not seen my brother, niece and nephew, and cousins in over 8 years, and I haven’t seen my father in over 10 years.  When I left Guatemala my nephew and niece were babies. I remember when they were born, they were the newest additions to the family and the only little ones we had.  I loved spending time with them, playing with them, watching them become little people.  I have really worked to be a good example for them.  The hardest part of leaving was knowing I’d miss so much of their childhood. When I think of home, I think of holding those two, playing with them, and wishing the best for their future.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE 4/15/14: THIS FLIGHT IS FULLY FUNDED! YEAH!


 Avinash & Meghana in front of a large building

Avinash & Meghana in front of a large building

FLIGHT CREW 

The Reddy-Kaza Family

Avinash and Meghana are thrilled to be raising funds to send Alfredo on a trip to Guatemala to see his family after 8 years of separation. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the organizing work Alfredo has been a part of in Chicago - speaking out against unfair working conditions at the risk of losing his livelihood.

The impact of a stagnant minimum wage on families is real and difficult - living paycheck to paycheck, it is nearly impossible to save enough to buy an airplane ticket and see loved ones. We are proud to stand next to Alfredo in his fight for a fair economy and hope he has a wonderful time in Guatemala! 

THE REDDY-KAZA FAMILY IS DONATING $400 & RAISING $200 TO SEND ALFREDO TO GUATEMALA! 

FUNDRAISING UPDATE 4/15/14: THIS FLIGHT IS FULLY FUNDED! YEAH!