SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Chicas Latinas de Sacramento is a nonprofit organization that was established to build connections with other like-minded individuals aimed at giving back to the community, utilizing people and culture to educate, inspire and lead. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, running from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the group met over Zoom for a social hour to build connections within the community.
Violeta Lemus, the host of the Hispanic Heritage Month Zoom social shared her story of being born and raised in El Salvador before relocating to California and later moving to Texas where she currently resides.
Lemus describes a time in El Salvador in November during a parade of urban legends in the central plaza where the children would go trick-or-treating and recite poems in exchange for sweet vegetables. Everyone would then line up towards the cemetery for a life and death celebration.
"A lot of people would come back to El Salvador for the festivals and to reconnect with childhood friends," Lemus said.
Jennifer Estrada, of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent and a member of Chicas Latinas de Sacramento since 2009, shared her memory of visiting Mexico where her dad grew up.
"I went back to where my dad grew up in Mexico on Dia de los Muertos and went to a cemetery where my dad was buried with family. It was emotional, but I was happy to be there on that day to spend it with family," Estrada said.
Lorena Campos, the founder of Chicas Latinas de Sacramento, originally started the group in Sacramento. She spoke about the growth and change of Hispanic culture.
"There's so much growth and change, from the language, different people and their different experiences within the Mexican culture deemed Hispanic culture, but it's important to remember the areas of Central America and other cultures that are out there as well," Campos said.
While there has been a lot of tension surrounding issues of immigration, the members of Chicas Latinas de Sacramento shared similar thoughts as to how it has impacted them personally.
"For those crossing the border, it's not necessarily a decision as it is a last resort. Just being in El Salvador and applying for an immigration visa costs you $200 and there's no guarantee. A lot of my family came here because of the war in El Salvador. A lot of people cross the border to escape gang violence; they felt pushed to leave," Lumus said.
What's missing is the human aspect, of understanding what immigrants face and the complexity of the issue, Lumus emphasized.
"This country was founded on immigrants trying to escape, they are doing the same thing their ancestors did. I want to educate people as to why they want to be a part of this country, make money and get away from violence," Estrada said.