This month, I volunteered at the Catholic Charities of Laredo Humanitarian Respite Center in Texas, working with migrants who were given temporary asylum. As I spent time there, my being part of a congregation named Hope became even more meaningful. The connection with the migrant families and the volunteers at the center were awe-inspiring.
Many of the people at the border looked shell shocked. Some were in detention for a few days, some in more. When they are taken into detention, everything personal is taken away from them, including their shoelaces and hairties.
A lot of people were sick and coughing. When I met them, I could tell that they were still in shell shock. Then, when they came to respite center and saw clothing, showers, even the box of shoelaces, they realize that can pick out what they want for the journey ahead. That’s the beginning. You can see a glimmer of hope.
These dire circumstances evoked such feelings of helplessness on my part, yet even a smile caught a spark of hope in their eyes, and so it continued throughout my stay. Hope was glimmers seen in the eyes of a family after a change of clothes and a shower. Many of these people had not showered in days; some of the children told us they hadn’t had a bath or a shower in days or in a month. Likewise, hope was shown by the people of Laredo who showed up day after day with love and compassion for a people so in need of loving presence.
Below are brief reflections from other sisters who volunteered at the Border this month:
“ABANDONED… by nation, culture and decency… yet a light of compassion creeps in by generous hearts️.”
Marilyn Dunn, OP (Sparkill)
“The reason to go to the border was to let the families know that we care. If our small acts of support gave even one person hope, our trip was a success.”
Margo Saich, OP (Sparkill)
Didi Madden, OP (Blauvelt)
Click here to go to the OPSCC website to see a slideshow of pictures from Laredo, Texas.
So meaningful to read about this. In the 1950s when I was a child, I visited my aunt and uncle and their family in Laredo. My uncle worked at now defunct Air Force Base. I remember a friendly community, where people from both countries could walk! back and forth across the border easily. But coming from the Bronx, I could realize, even at that young age, that not all Mexicans or Mexican-Americans were considered equal. In these times, your work is so critical.
Thank you for your good work.