The unimaginable journey to the southern border
As I walk along the bridge, at the port of entry in Progreso, Texas, on the Mexican side, I overhear some of the tourist comments, “Why are they here,” “Poor people,” “These people smell,” “Let’s give them a dollar.”
I sit with a few of the refugees and shared my “taquitos.” “Gracias hermano por la obra de caridad, dios se lo pague con muchos más.” I see the children holding hands, some from Honduras, and others from Cuba and El Salvador, singing and smiling at me.
From deep in South America to the islands in the Caribbean, they flock their way, to get to the promised land. They come seeking economic opportunities only to face disdain, hatred and, in many cases, death.
As I dig deep into their journey, I hear the unimaginable. Rojel from Honduras shared how his wife was brutally raped and murdered outside his house while he was at work and his 10-year-old in school.
“We immediately left after we buried my wife because of the death threats that followed.” His journey to the border took him and his son two weeks. They have been waiting for 18 days to get processed.
Francisca, a single mother with her 2-year-old boy made her journey from El Salvador. She is 28 years old and her journey took three weeks. She arrived in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas with a friend. Her friend exited the bus by mistake in Rio Bravo and it proved to be costly, Francisca never saw her again. She is convinced that her friend was kidnapped.
Ten feet before reaching the emblem that divides the United States and Mexico, there is a park bench that Francisca calls home. She has been waiting for 16 days to get processed.
We took action to provide basic provisions for 65 refugees. Our first step was to provide water daily. With a few donations we purchased three Rubbermaid 5-gallon water coolers and stationed them at their campsite. Every two days we refilled them with ice and water. Our commitment immediately drew attention and created a lot of energy. In fact, every three days we have been providing a small meal from donations.
It’s beautiful to see how many donors have come together. We view our assistance as a moral responsibility, but more simply, as people who care about humanity and seek understanding.
At a very young age, my father ingrained in my mind how blessed we are to have. But by no means, to have and hold, but to give and serve. These words have been and will be the cornerstone of my thinking today, tomorrow and forever.