Sometimes I'm stunned and saddened by the cruelty of some of my fellow Americans.
I have been reflecting and praying about Ana Fernandez. She is the 40-year-old Salvadoran woman who was one of the 9 people killed in the Metro train crash this week. Today, WTOP reports that her family "says they have been getting hate-filled telephone messages about whether or not Fernandez, a mother of six, was a legal immigrant." This is sick and pathetic. Whether or not Fernandez was documented or not, her family has suffered a terrible tragedy and deserves our compassion and concern, not hatred and bigotry. I want to say this before discussing Ana's individual situation because this kind of behavior is morally repugnant, unChristian, and unAmerican no matter who the victim is.
As a matter of fact, Ana, who hails from San Jerónimo de San Alejo in La Unión, El Salvador, was in the United States legally. All but the oldest of her six children ages 21, 18, 14, 12, 11 and 1 1/2 were born here and her oldest is also residing legally in this country, sponsored by Ana. She was widowed and had recently remarried to Oscar Flores, a window-washer by trade. According to the Washington Post, the couple had been married less than two years and a friend had given her a wedding dress, but the two still hadn't scraped together the time or money for the formal church ceremony they had been planning. The littlest girl, Jackie, is his daughter.
On the evening she died, Fernandez was commuting into the District to her second part-time job, cleaning offices at Columbia Plaza. She was a proud member of SEIU Local 32BJ and Jaime Contreras, president of the local, described her as a "good lady". "She was trying to help one of her fellow churchgoers find a job," Contreras said.
Her oldest daughter, Evelyn, who has vowed to keep the family together and try to fill her mother's shoes called Fernandez "a strong woman". "She was always working; working two jobs, she did whatever she had to to take care of us. She never needed any one to help her."
Please keep Ana Fernandez and her family in your prayers, as well as all the victims of the train crash. As you can see from the video below, her family are faithful evangelicos and I know that God will comfort them and see them through this tragedy.
As far as practical assistance is concerned, we understand from El Diario de Hoy that the consul for El Salvador, Ana Margarita Chávez and Radio América - 1540 AM will be arranging a radiothon to raise funds for the family this Friday. For more information and/or to make a donation, call the radio station at (301) 942-3500. According to El Tiempo Latino, an account has been established through Chevy Chase Bank to receive donations for the family: 1313225291. Fernandez's family plans to bury her body here in Washington.