A dangerous journey, an incredible story

One man's trek changed his life and impacted many more

Saul Flores, who walked 5,328 miles to show the dangers immigrants face, spoke at Ferris Thursday, Oct. 3, in the University Center. Photo by: Will Holden | Torch Photographer

Saul Flores walked 5,328 miles by himself through 10 different countries in a journey that changed his life, creating a story that could change thousands of others.

Flores spoke to Ferris students Thursday, Oct. 3. The event was hosted by Sigma Lambda Beta and co-sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Services, the Center for Latin@ Studies, the Hispanic Student Organization and Spanish faculty.

Sigma Lambda Beta President Leonardo Almanza was a primary reason Flores came to Ferris to speak about his journey. Almanza chose Flores because the two have a very similar background. Almanza heard him at a previous presentation and knew from the beginning he wanted Flores to speak at Ferris.

Flores grew up with his two migrant parents and younger sister. He would go to work with his mom and dad when he was younger. As a child, he knew he was hungry, but he never really felt hungry. What he felt was the love and sacrifice of his parents.

Flores received a scholarship to attend North Carolina State University. While he was there, he led a group of classmates back to his mother’s hometown of Atencingo, Mexico. When he took his classmates there, his grandmother escorted him around the town to see how poor it really was. When he came to the school his mother went to, he saw how happy the kids were, despite their school practically falling apart.

Four years later, when Flores rallied more classmates back to that same town, he was told that his mother’s school was going to be shut down. It was going to close because the building was beyond help or repair. Flores admitted heartbreak.

Upon return to the United States, he went straight to his parents and said, “In an unexpected place, I discovered a community that I wanted to serve.”

Flores wanted to embark on a journey: “The Walk of the Immigrants.” The purpose of this journey was to walk across South America to the United States to bring awareness to the hardships immigrants face while coming to America. He brought his camera and was going to sell the photographs he took along the way to raise money for the school in Antencingo. He hoped to make it home alive.

Along his trip, he saw many beautiful sights, but he ran into danger, as well. He used a tree log as a canoe, and claims to have suffered a three-day coma after infection from a poisonous dart frog. However, he ended up completing the 5,328- mile journey.

Flores’ trek has since become well-known. He has been featured on TED, National Public Radio, Huffington Post and Fox News.

What started as an idea evolved into something greater. Despite the complications and peril he faced along the way, Flores was happy to have made the journey after seeing the impact it had on the children of Atencingo.

“The picture of the kids at the new school in Mexico made it worth it,” Flores said.