Pass the Mic with Oscar Riaz


Oscar is a barber and family man, seen here in a jersey for the Honduras national football team. This story was translated from the original Spanish.

I came to this country, this city, five years ago. It hasn’t been easy. I work some days in a barber shop, and other days I do what I can.

This city has been a sanctuary for us in a lot of ways. You can come to Baltimore and get support that you can’t get in other places. Most people won’t bother you. You can get your driver’s license, earn a living and take care of your family. In Honduras, if you don’t have money, you can’t live. But here, even if you have nothing, if you are down in the street—if you call, an ambulance will come.

Other times, though, it’s hard. We came legally but it’s hard here for undocumented people. If you don’t have a Green Card or if you don’t speak English, there are a lot of jobs you don’t even qualify for. My two sons are in school here in the city; there’s some good, and some bad. Most of his teachers are bilingual, but others aren’t, and then what can you do?

I went to the bank the other day and a woman treated me like I had no right to be there. “Why don’t you speak English?” she said. “Why don’t you speak Spanish?” I wanted to ask her. We’re all people. We’re all equal. But for some people, they act like we are animals. Pero vamos a luchar. I’m here with my family, giving them that opportunity, and one day we’ll be able to return and make a good life back home.

Yo soy de mi país. If you ask me what I miss about Honduras, I miss everything. I miss my family, I miss the weather. In Honduras, $10 will feed a family for a week. Here, I walk outside and find a ticket on my car for ten times that. It’s a different way of living. And it's not easy.

But there are opportunities here. Gracias a díos, I am where I am, and there are people who want to support us.

“Pass the Mic” is a storytelling space featuring the voices and stories of people with a lived experience of homelessness. Read other stories like Oscar's here

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