When Her Mom Was Rushed To The E.R., One App Made All The Difference

"It's not just a tool for socializing, but rather a tool to help me manage life."

Twenty years ago, Cecilia Mena-Reyes moved to Atlanta, Georgia from El Salvador, thousands of miles away from her parents who both live with long-term illnesses. Despite the distance, Mena-Reyes became her parent's sole caretaker after her two siblings passed away. 



Since immigrating to the United States, technological advances in communication have irrevocably changed her life for the better. "Modern technology is the immigrant's best friend," she told A Plus via email. "Distances are greatly diminished and access to friends and families overseas is the same as if they were across the street." 

Cecilia Mena-Reyes

 She recalled how much long-distance phone calls used to cost, compared to the "almost non-existent" charges today. Even with fewer costs, people are able to communicate and connect with one another in more ways than ever before. Mena-Reyes swears by mobile messaging apps, like WhatsApp, because they enable her to not only voice call, but make video calls with her parents as well. 

Without this technology, Mena-Reyes would never be able to take care of her parents while still pursuing her dreams. "I don't know how I'd do even a fraction of what I do without WhatsApp. If the technology were not there I would have to either move or travel a lot more, which would not be practical for me or my family," she explained. "WhatsApp helps me take care of my ailing parents overseas because I can communicate with their nurses and doctors regularly. I can manage their care schedule and get up to the minute updates and handle emergencies." 

Mena-Reyes' father celebrating his birthday with his family and nurse. 
Mena-Reyes' father celebrating his birthday with his family and nurse.  Cecilia Mena-Reyes 

Recently, this became essential for Mena-Reyes to communicate with her mother's nurses when they had to rush her mom to the emergency room for a sudden illness. While many people may associate modern communication negatively with isolation, short attention spans, and vanity, at their core, they have a unique ability to bring people together instantly and, in doing so, perhaps even save their lives. 

Mena-Reyes' mother with her nurses.
Mena-Reyes' mother with her nurses. Cecilia Mena-Reyes

"...For me, it's not just a tool for socializing but rather a tool to help me manage life," Mena-Reyes added. Besides helping take care of her parents, modern messaging has helped Mena-Reyes connect to the other people in make in her local community and work together to make a positive difference. 

She remembered a time last year when her employer was collecting used shoes for charity, and she used WhatsApp to reach out to friends know and recruit donations. While she mainly uses mobile messaging apps for "mainly personal" reasons relating to her own family, but she's always ready to lend a friend in need "a helping hand or a prayer" — no matter where they are. "Technology has made it possible to reconnect with old friends and to keep in touch with them on a daily basis, even though we're all in different cities or even countries," she said. 

Mena-Reyes at a reunion with her high school friends. 
Mena-Reyes at a reunion with her high school friends.  Cecilia Mena-Reyes


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