Desperation [noun]: “The feeling you have when your situation seems so bad you are willing to take big risks to change it.”

Haitian Ruth Alix, 30, is a living definition of desperation.

Here is Ruth, with her six-month old son Vladensky, walking through a perilous, roadless Central American jungle. This is a known strip of suffering but Ruth, her husband and two children are in the middle of this jungle, because innately, like all of us, they yearn for a better life.

They fled the chaos and turmoil of their home country on a dangerous boat trip for French Guiana, only to find pandemic-exacerbated poverty and little hope for a better future. They have made their way through four countries and five more are ahead before their preferred final destination, USA.

Despite thinning hope, they push on. The chance of their American dream becoming a reality is so very slim. But they’re desperate. Ruth’s husband Vladimy tells reporters: ”We take this risk because we have children.”

Who knows what life will look like for Vladensky and his sister Farline?

This family’s jungle trek is marked by both complexity and simplicity. 

Beyond their control are layers of complex national and international politics and refugee and human rights’ policies. But as they trek through jungle mud, there is the simple, powerful driving forces of hope and freedom. 

As I look at this New York Times photo today I am reminded that behind refugee statistics are real people – desperate people – hoping people – people like Ruth and a beautiful little boy, seeking something I take for granted each and every day.