Yordanis Garcia Milian, 28, knew he couldn't leave Cuba without a snapshot from his surprise 15th birthday party. The photo shows his parents smiling that day. "This memory, wherever I am, will go with me, because I can lose everything, but not the hope of fighting for them and fighting to have them here with me," he said. Milian is one of more than 3,000 Cubans who flew from Panama to Mexico and crossed into the United States in May. Here's a look at some of the things they carried with them.
"When she gave me the bear, she told me she would always be with me," Yadira Lozano Odio, 31, said, her eyes welling up with tears as she described the moment she said goodbye to her best friend in Santiago de Cuba. Lozano keeps a necklace wrapped around the small stuffed panda -- a gift from another close friend. The necklace, she said, was blessed by a priest in her friend's church.
Osdaisy Calaña Bujol, 31, wore a necklace her 8-year-old son made for her before she left Cuba. He told her it would bring her good luck. "It's already green," she said, "but it's the most important thing I have."
Wrapped in clothes in a backpack he carried from Ecuador to the United States, Julio Cesar Valle Hernandez keeps small statues of the Virgen de la Regla (Our Lady of Regla) and San Lazaro (Saint Lazarus). "It got broken on the way," he said, "but I couldn't leave it behind."
It's heavy, but Angel Bornell Batista, 27, didn't think twice about packing a sacred Eleguá stone when she left Cuba a year ago, or bringing it along on the three-month journey from Ecuador to the United States. "I asked him to clear the path for me," Bornell said.
Edgardo Nuñez Cobas, 43, used to work as a cook at a five-star hotel in Cuba. He brought a certificate that shows his hospitality training with him to the United States and hopes it will help him land a job. For now, days after he arrived in America, he's cooking food at a shelter where Cubans who've just crossed into the United States are staying in El Paso, Texas.
Nuñez also brought a beaded necklace with him that he's had since he was 18 years old.