It has been three weeks since I began the journey of migrant accompaniment with the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, AZ/MX. And each day here, I am more settled and unsettled… as I get used to the rhythm of the days and the services and learn more of the hardships and the injustices of those caught in the migration, detention, deportation, and broken system immigration web.
Each day hundreds of migrants come through the Kino Migrant Outreach Center in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Each day hundreds of migrants come for food, seek shelter, need clothes, search for protection, require medical attention, ask for advice and yearn for a listening spirit and encouraging words. All of this and more is taken up by the Kino staff and the many volunteers who each day share their hearts, talents, and love with those who come with heavy burdens but also with great hopes as they aspire for a better life for their families where basic needs can be met. Their dignity as persons can be lived.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be more settled and more unsettled as I assist with humanitarian services and listen firsthand to the sacred stories shared by migrants each day. I also have been able to participate in immersion educational experiences, which not only humanized the immigration issue but also helped me to understand even more the complexity of immigration and the accompaniment of migrants and refugees… as I learn more, I continue to find myself more settled, and more unsettled.
The learning process doesn’t stop as I continue to develop knowledge and skills to carry out advocacy and promote policy changes and processes for the long haul.
Today I did covid testing, and during the 15 minutes as we waited for the tests to register, I heard stories of several men being lost with hunger and thirst in the desert, of a young person having left home on his own to make the 3-day journey to the border hoping to cross as a minor, of a family running from gang violence to protect their two teenage children, heartbreaking stories. And then it was good to see the smiles when all the tests had negative results.
Another undertaking for today was helping with food preparation and distribution for the almost 300 people who come each day. For many, this is their daily meal as they adjust to waiting in Nogales. Next, I did initial interviews with those coming to the outreach center for the first time. Again, opening my ear and heart as stories were shared, stories that continued to stretch my sense of being more settled and more unsettled…stories of escaping violence, hunger, and fear, of walking with uncertainty for weeks, of rape, of lack of respect, levels of the dehumanization of each of these precious persons. And amid so much pain, their relief for the rest, care and hope found at Kino.
As I move into my last week at Kino, I am also grateful for the moments of gentleness, compassion, and bits of joy that gift these days…feeding a baby in the dining area, admiring the embroidery handwork being done by women from the shelter, finding just the right pair of shoes for the little girl, accompanying three young people as they present themselves to the Customs and Border Protection at the port of entry and request asylum…these too are moments of blessing.
As an Adorer, with all of us Adorers, one by one, person by person, we are present with each person at the border, at any border in our world. And as we are called to be more settled and unsettled, “we seek to be a presence that is inclusive, loving and liberating” … “so that all can move toward that beautiful order of things” and be one in our human family.