Me llamo Teodosia
By Elizabeth Stahl & Natalie Salazar

“The goal is to come here, get ahead, and do better. We do get better but very little. And so yeah, one is still here but because it is necessary. One cannot finish doing things. The more we work, the more we make, and so the more we can send to the family to help them. Right now one can not leave because one has to stay, waiting to see what happens to us.” 59 year old Teodosia del Carmen immigrated to Sunset Park, Brooklyn from Puebla Mexico 16 years ago.

After working in a factory for 2 years, with a salary of $70 a week, she started a fruit cart on the corner 5th and 56th street in Brooklyn, NY. “I don’t work for anyone else, just for myself,” she proudly proclaimed when asked about her business. Tiodesa began working with fruit in Mexico at the age of 14, which inspired her to start her business here.

Teodosia traveled through the desert in a group of 6 people to cross the border. In her own words, “to go through the desert isn’t easy.” She describes her most prominent memories as fearing who or what would come, although she had a kind “Coyote,” which isn’t often the case. It cost her $2,500 to make it past the border but her hardships didn’t stop there. Teodosia faces racism and threats on a daily basis. Even as we were speaking with and photographing her and her son Sergio, a man walked past and murmured “what a waste of film.” People from gangs come and threaten her for her fruit and kids throw her things around. Now she calls the police on them and most stop bothering her. There are other people who tell her things like, “Mexicans are only here to take money,” and their “money [is] from the street and not [theirs].” Sunset Park is a predominantly immigrant community, but assumptions and hate live everywhere. Our project aims to expose these biases while portraying the story of a very strong undocumented immigrant named Teodosia del Carmen.