Dying Woman Dreams of Returning Home

Esperanza. Leticia Ponce tendrá que mostrar una mejoría en su salud para poder ir a su pueblo Jolalpan. (Photo vía Diario de Mexico)

Leticia Ponce has to get better in order to travel home to Mexico. (Photo by Gery Vereau, vía Diario de Mexico)

Leticia Ponce’s desire to spend the last days of her life in the place where she was born – the municipality of Jolalpan in the Mexican state of Puebla – seems to be delayed since she needs to get her passport renewed and permission from a doctor.

“If she doesn’t get a little bit better, she won’t be able to travel and her last wish won’t be fulfilled,” said her grieving husband Saúl Castro, who is fighting so Ponce can return to her hometown.

Ponce, who has three young children, never thought that the American dream would be cut short nine years after arriving in the city of Elizabeth, N.J. Terminal cancer has affected her throat, stomach, and lungs. Her days are numbered; it shows in her appearance.

Due to her condition, it is very complicated for her to go to the Mexican consulate in Manhattan to renew her passport. As if that weren’t enough, she can’t leave the U.S. without approval from a doctor, according to the law.

As of now, Ponce and her family are accumulating debt and bills. Dr. Dale Schaar of Robert Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., told Castro that he would sign the authorization form for Ponce to travel only if she becomes stronger over the course of the remaining days of her life.

A helping hand

After the story was reported in the pages of Diario de Mexico USA, the solidarity of the Mexican community sprung into action.

The first phone call came from Elizabeth, the city where Ponce lives, while most flowed in from the Big Apple. The replies came from people who, without hesitation, expressed their unconditional cooperation and compassion for the situation of this mother, who is hanging to life by a thread.

That is how Elvia Rocha, owner of La Familia Dely, offered to put out a money-box to collect donations.

“I’m going to call him to find out what he needs and collect donations from my coworkers and family members. We have to lend this fellow countrywoman a helping hand,” said Arturo Noriega, from the Mexican state of Guerrero and a resident of Elmhurst, Queens.

For Silvia Ariza, the story stirred up memories of when she worked for a while in Ponce’s birthplace of Jolalpan, and she decided to help.

Likewise, Brooklyn resident Blanca Cortez, originally from the municipality of Acatlán, told Ponce’s family to let her know how she could help.

The story has compelled Mexicans to help, such as Santiago Jiménez, who hopes to “do his bit.”

At a crossroads

Ponce’s case greatly depends on whether her health improves and on completing the following procedures: Her doctor said he will let her travel only if she gets better in the coming days, while the renewal of her passport at the Mexican consulate in Manhattan, which only the owner of the passport can do, will happen if she can travel there from New Jersey.

To help

There is a Bank of America account to help Ponce and her family: the account number is 381038700813 and the routing number is 021200339.

UPDATE: Leticia Ponce has lost her battle with cancer (in Spanish via El Diario-La Prensa)

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