I met Reina Howard through her son Alvaro Watson. I met Alvaro through my work as a journalist with AXcess News.
As a journalist, I am always looking for interesting people doing extraordinary things to interview. I came across Alvaro’s Facebook page on his Temple University student group. The group had the mission of fostering free speech and critical thinking on campus.
After interviewing Alvaro, I ended up doing a four-part series on him and the original Purpose Group. You can read about this extraordinary young man in that series first published in March, 2011 here.
I have since come to know where Alvaro gets his passion, courage, and intelligence – his mother.
Reina was born in El Salvador to her American father and Salvadoran mother. She is married and has one grown up son, Alvaro, and two step children.
Presently she is working on her Master degree in Professional Counseling. Her interests include politics, gardening, crocheting, drawing, painting, cooking, walking, dancing at home for exercise, and writing.
Reina came from El Salvador in the late 1980s during a time of severe political turmoil and attacks from the Communists guerrillas to the population and financial targets that would devastate the economy.
She is a new Contributor with the new ThoughtfulWomen.org. Reina expressed, “When readers get to know about why I left El Salvador, they will also understand why I am so passionate against agendas that pretend to care for the poor but enslave entire nations.”
She notes, “First they do it through indoctrination and then radically transforming the system when people finally see those changes as OK and acceptable.”
She believes, “My experiences would help American women to have a clearer view of the importance of their participation in politics and in the coming elections.”
She explains why women must understand the power of politics in her first ThoughtfulWomen.org article “Why Politics Must Matter to Everyday Women.” She details the realities of life she experienced under a socialist country as a warning to Americans:
- Ended my mother’s small business in El Salvador.
- Affected the budget of the university where my father worked reducing his income to a small pay check every few months.
- Created class warfare.
- Increased anti-American sentiment.
- Led people to want to remove free enterprise and individual rights to create “equality.”
- Politics made business owners move to other countries and stopped job creation where these businesses started.
- Increased taxes on everything possible including some groceries.
- Redistributed land and wealth in the name of social justice and income equality.
- Persuaded some that killing business owners was OK to punish the wealthy and anyone who had more than what they had.
- Isolated entire nations keeping them in poverty and without freedoms.
- Changed health care systems to become socialized and promised people medical care for everyone, but instead many died while waiting for government approval to see a doctor or to have a test.
- Caused some to be without or not enough food.
- Took away from parents the freedom to choose how they would educate their children.
- Took away their religious freedoms.
- Imposed dictators indefinitely.
- Produced the exodus of people escaping their own countries while others less fortunate remained captive.
She is one of many immigrants to the U.S. who have escaped from living under socialist or communist political philosophies who now warn those in the U.S. who hail this for America.
Here is Reina Howard’s personal story of her escape to the U.S. in her own words.
My father was an adventurous American chemist and my mother a lively Salvadoran whom worked in accounting. She was also an entrepreneur with at least two different kinds of businesses – and did well in both.
El Salvador has been shaken through history, not only by earthquakes, but also by political uproar.
In the search for answers to alleviate poverty and suffering, some people adopted the concepts of social justice and redistribution of wealth. This was promoted by the religious left in the form of the theology of liberation and imparted in schools and universities as social justice.
This manipulated the needs of people, and the agents of class warfare created the environment which would advance their agendas by increasing the hate among different groups in the Salvadoran society.
In the late 1970s the country was at a sweltering point; secular and religious leftists were harvesting the fruits of the indoctrination of the masses. They recruited and forced those who refused to join them to become members of their guerrilla groups which had been organised in cities and in the country side.
Now good people in need, who had been convinced that a Cuban-style revolution was the answer to social problems and poverty, were armed and had been trained to terrorize those who had more than what they did.
They kidnapped and assassinated national and foreign business men, placed explosives in public transportation, took radio stations hostage, and passionately expressed their hate for Americans and Capitalism.
In this environment, my parents thought it was time to leave. The bulletins from the American embassy in El Salvador sent to American citizens were telling them the same – leave or stay at your own risk.
The attacks from Communists terrorists, in the name of social justice, created political instability. There was an exodus of foreign companies that provided jobs for Salvadorans. Salvadoran business owners were bankrupted and the economy devastated.
The university where my father taught chemistry paid him every few months instead of monthly, and the small business my mother had where I worked with her was almost non-existent. All that my parents could do, even when they could not afford it, was to send their children to the United States one by one.
This was very difficult for them since they did not know when they would see each other again. I was the third one who was supposed to leave, and the week before I left the Capital, San Salvado was violently shaken due to an earthquake.
I cannot describe my sadness at having to leave under such terrible circumstances. It is hard to express my grief at having to leave my son with my parents for about 10 months.
My son was a little boy, and I had never been away from him. My mother convinced me leaving was the best option if I wanted to save my son from having to stay permanently in El Salvador. I felt I was leaving part of me – my son and my little boy.
The American Embassy told me I could not bring him with me, because he was not an American citizen. They said I needed to come first to the U.S. and find a job to support my son and then bring him as a permanent resident. That is what I did.
During my first months in the U.S., and for many years after, I had nightmares about losing my son and not being able to find him. I missed him agonizingly.
As some of you already figured it out, I was a single mother. I did not speak English. I just did not know what I was going to do for living and to provide for my son.
As many women, without education or who do not speak English do when they come to the States, I started to look for houses to clean. My first customer had asked me how much I would charge for cleaning. My younger brother whom had been in the U.S. a few months translated for me.
He translated what I had said – $5.00 an hour. I did not calculate my charges very well. I cleaned the lady’s house in an hour since it was not too big. I vacuumed, dusted, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned the one small bathroom with a bath tab, and pressed two of the lady’s nurse uniforms.
I received what I asked for which was $5.00 for this day. I quickly learned I needed to charge by the job and not by the hour. After the unforgettable $5.00 house cleaning, I changed how I charged for my work.
One of my next jobs was working at the home of a Texan family who owned a cattle company. They paid me very well. Impressed with my performance, they also offered to have me clean their cattle company’s offices. I happily accepted the offer.
Now I was able to send to my parents what they needed to pay for the application for my son to come to the U.S. as a permanent resident. I could show the immigration authorities that I could support him.
I was reunited with my son almost a year later. This gave me even more desire to continue to work hard and at the same time brightened my life again and made me very happy.
In addition to working for this Texan family, I also worked for a Texan chain of grocery stores where I worked in different departments and later was accepted at their school of retail management.
Completing this program was one of the first experiences of accomplishment I felt after coming to the U.S. The very first accomplishment was bringing my son to be with me.
During the time when I was working at different stores of this chain, I also attained my GED. I began to take classes at a community college.
Later, I decided to work in a different line of business and began to work as a beauty consultant for Estee Lauder. My son Alvaro learned English very fast and excelled in school. He became my English teacher.
I have been married for almost twelve years, and I have two stepchildren.
My son Alvaro received his bachelor degree, and a year later I received mine. Presently we are both working on our Master degrees.
We often tell others how grateful we are. We are thankful to God first and second to the U.S. which gave us an opportunity to start again after having to leave El Salvador.
Due to political instability and the terror Communists groups created in order to advance social justice and socialism, I left El Salvador without knowing how I would start again.
But thankfully, God sees the “big picture”, and He knew we would thrive and love this land. He knew we would defend it when our country needs its citizens to stand up the most for freedom – giving God the glory for utilising for good every difficulty I have had and every tear I have shed.
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