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A Migrant Woman Looks for Her Missing Husband, Which Happens a Lot When Men Are Having Trouble Finding Work


Jessica Juma, a mother of three who lives in a rural area of Ecuador and started working at Mariano’s in Lakeview, Chicago, on May 25. That same day, her husband, Angel Mashiant, disappeared without a trace. The couple had a hard time in the city for six months, looking for work while begging in front of pharmacies and grocery shops.

Jessica’s path to stability began when she found a therapist who helped her deal with her trauma and get papers for her law work. Even though her husband was happy about her job, he was still out of work, and things got more stressful.

Mashant was begging outside the store with their 15-year-old son, 19-year-old daughter, and 6-month-old grandchild on the day he went missing. He said that he bought new shoes before leaving and would never go back. Jessica remembered, “Everything was fine, but we never heard from him again.”

Jessica has been in a daze since he disappeared. She has been looking for him along the lakefront and calling the cops to report him missing, but they haven’t responded. In Jessica’s case, it’s similar to what happens a lot with new immigrants: guys who can’t support their families leave their partners and kids.

Since August 2022, more than 43,000 people have come to Chicago. Many of them are single moms with children who are staying in city and state shelters. Often, migrant men leave because they feel ashamed and angry that they can’t support their families, says Ana Gil-Garcia from the Illinois Venezuelan Alliance.

Nareida Santana, 37, from Colombia, told a similar story in front of a shelter in the West Loop. Her boyfriend also left her quickly, leaving her with their 7-year-old son. “I’m so scared,” she said, feeling stressed out about having to find work, a place to live, and school for her child.

Veronica Sanchez, a licensed social worker, has seen this trend happen while leading healing groups for migrants. A lot of guys leave their families because of the stress and mental health problems that come with their tough situations.

The city of Chicago helps with some mental health issues and shelters, but it’s hard for them to deal with all of these problems. It’s not clear how many single mother migrants are staying in shelters, but case workers and nonprofits try to help.

A 42-year-old mother from Venezuela named Yoleida Ramirez talked about how hopeless she felt after months of looking for work but not being able to find one while living in a shelter with her three children. Her words, “I’ve looked and looked but can’t find a job,” showed how hard things are for many foreign women.

Jessica and her husband had a quiet last morning together. They got up early, and he made fun of her for being late to work. He begged for money outside while she worked inside. Since he disappeared, she has been upset, can’t find peace, and is always looking for him. The police haven’t finished his missing person report yet, and she hasn’t been able to follow up because of problems with contact.

Jessica keeps looking for answers but hasn’t found her husband yet, even though she has been searching for a long time. It’s clear that the confusion and fear of losing her spot in the shelter system are taking a toll on her emotions.

Jessica’s situation shows how hard it is for migrant women who are left to handle their own problems in a new country while also dealing with deep personal loss and uncertainty.

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