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 hearts❤️.”
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)

“It was heart-wrenching to see people come in from the detention center…almost all look shell-shocked and terrified. The silence was deafening. As they were warmly welcomed, offered water and snacks, colorful shoelaces during the registration process the silence fell away and smiles appeared! By the time everyone had a shower, a hot meal, clean clothes, and the surety of travel or a clean, comfortable bed for the night — hope and relaxation surfaced in the adults, play and laughter returned to the children — amazing! Working at the border was a beatitude moment for me….”
Didi Madden, OP (Blauvelt) 

Click here to go to the OPSCC website to see a slideshow of pictures from Laredo, Texas.