"I Am One of the Lucky Ones" - A Call to Mercy, Pt. 1

For the next two weeks, Honduran-born U.S. immigration attorney Killa M. will share her reflections on life in Honduras and on showing mercy to unaccompanied children in "A Call to Mercy", a four-part LSG blog series.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lutheran Services of Georgia.


I came to the United States from Honduras on a student visa when I was 17 years old, just a month shy of my 18th birthday. I wanted to get the best college education so I could return home and work in the Honduran tourism industry or perhaps at the “Cancillería” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). I wanted a job that would allow me to share my country’s beauty and potential with the world.

My mother always reminded me that, after graduation, I was to return to Honduras and use my foreign-acquired skills to benefit my home country. However, a few weeks before she was murdered, while I was in my second year of law school, she told me something she had never said before: “Stay where you are. Don’t come back to this country. There is nothing left here for you.”

My mother, Judith Aleman Banegas, was a well-respected attorney. During her 30-year-long career as an attorney she successfully took on all kinds of cases, from child custody disputes to complex international business transactions. Anyone who knew my mother recognized that she possessed a brilliant legal mind. As a woman in a very chauvinist society, my mother was nevertheless able to excel and surpass most men in her field. Her intelligence was overshadowed only by her humility and kindness.

My mother loved nothing more than to help individuals with no access to the limited Honduran legal system. Consequently, she fought for the rights of low-income women and their children. She was the kind of person who would watch the evening news and be so moved by someone’s plight that she would call the news station and offer her services pro bono. She was a fierce advocate for transparency in the courts and was openly critical in the media about corrupt government officials who manipulated and abused the legal system.

To this day, I don’t know who killed my mother. I have no idea who ordered or paid to have her killed. All I know is that, on the afternoon of November 7, 2011, five heavily armed men intercepted her car. They killed my mother, her bodyguard and her secretary. My mother left me and my two siblings behind. Her bodyguard had two kids. Her secretary was a single mother of a 9-month-old baby girl.

If you feel bad for me, don’t. I am one of the lucky ones. I didn’t see my mother die. I didn’t hear her scream. I was never harassed or beaten. I didn’t have to walk the streets of my neighborhood wondering when my turn to die would come. Many of the children fleeing to the U.S. from Honduras are not as lucky as I am.

Check back on Thursday, September 18, for part two of "A Call to Mercy". If you have questions about this blog series or for Killa, please contact Abi Koning, Communications Coordinator, at akoning@lsga.org.