Today has been one of the longest days I have lived thus far in the past twenty years, but easily one of the most meaningful as well. Our entire group woke up to shoot footage at 4:30 a.m. this morning. We drove up to the top of a hill and watched as the sky turned from dark blue to an array of light blues and oranges over the border. Starting my day experiencing the beauty of nature was the perfect way to set the scene of seeing God in what was all around me throughout the day.
In the morning, we visited a women’s shelter organized by the Kino Border Initiative that helps female migrants and their children after they have been deported. KBI primarily works with migrants who have just been deported and provides a warm meal, clothes, medical assistance, and temporary shelter for migrants in need.
We were fortunate enough to spend time helping the KBI staff and listening to the stories of migrants. While we had been oriented about the lives of migrants, I was completely unprepared for what I would hear from migrants firsthand. In the women’s shelter, we met one family who had some members born in Honduras and two members born in Georgia in the United States but still were reunited in Nogales.
Maria C. and I stayed behind to help film Natalia, a performer who was born in the United States but raised in Latin America who has spent her life living in solidarity with migrants. She had worked for KBI for a few years listening to migrants stories and singing for them. We were able to film Natalia sing and play the guitar for migrants, many of whom had just been deported shortly before their arrival for dinner at KBI.
The stories I heard from migrants allowed me to see the perseverance and resilience of those who are seeking a safer and better life for themselves, the crucial its of reuniting with loved ones, and the gratitude of compassion from others helping them in their current situation. Many migrants sometimes feel they deserve what happens to them, from complete poverty to brutality from authorities, but when others listen, there can be hope in a seemingly hopeless and complicated situation.
It’s impossible for me not to see God working through the people I’ve been surrounded by through this experience, from my fellow students who are using their gifts to tell the story of those who are marginalized, to my professors who are giving their time and guidance to us through and through, to the organizations that help migrants in any way possible to alleviate what they are going through, and finally to the migrants themselves who in my experience interacting with them had a smile on their faces and didn’t leave any sense of giving up or ending their journey.