Tag Archives: america

Thanksgiving in May

Today is Tuesday, the 24th of May. Joanna took us to the Kino Border Initiative’s humanitarian shelter for women migrants, Casa Nazaret. We met women and children who had been staying in an apartment room on the top floor of a rickety old building. As we reached the top, we were greeted with grins and giggles by the families seeking shelter.

We listened to a presentation about the people who the Casa Nazaret served. I learned that the Border Patrol has a program that is aimed to interrupt migration routes by separating families traveling together. This makes families more vulnerable in an infinite amount of ways.

A fact that left me bewildered was that 75% of these women have had less than a middle school education.

How could this be when I have had the privilege of attending an all-girls private, college preparatory school. I had a flashback of all the things I had learned there and how much I had developed into a confident, independent, thinking leader.

I asked Joanna why this was. She said that even though education was free, families still had to provide money for books and uniforms and transportation. Most families can barely even afford their children taking time off of work to attend school. Since the education for women is so low, it becomes harder as they grow older to find work. Weavings of Hope is a program that provides women with the opportunity to have some sort of income by making bracelets.

Women are able to weave bracelets and sell them as a way to make money. The process of making these bracelets is meditative and can also have a huge impact psychologically.
Women are able to weave bracelets and sell them as a way to make money. The process of making these bracelets is meditative and can also have a huge impact psychologically.

After the presentation, I read testimonial after testimonial of women who had passed through Casa Nazaret. I found the main thing that tied a lot of the stories together was family.

I remember one story about a woman who had grown up in a family where she had been neglected simply because she had been born with the wrong set of chromosomes. She was abused both physically and mentally in the most crucial stages of her life. As she started to have children of her own, she made a promise to herself to never expose her children to the hardships she had known growing up. She crossed the border illegally and had four children in America, a place where she could receive aid and her children could receive an adequate education.

One day, she had been driving her daughter to an appointment. She was pulled over, handcuffed, and taken to be detained right in front of her daughter. She had no time to gather her things or say goodbye to her husband or her children. This women was deported back to Mexico, miles away from the loves of her life. But how could she call her children and explain why she had to leave?

At the end of today, I am thankful. I am thankful for the opportunity of not only an education, but one that celebrates what being a women means. I am thankful to have been able to focus on my studies rather than having to work all of the time at a young age. I am thankful for having job opportunities that provide me with more than $4 at the end of my shift. I’m thankful for the nurturing family that continues to care about my whole well being and supports me.

The promised land

It’s weird to think that our journey in this country is almost over. But even though we may be going home, a part of us will always be here and with these people. I find it hard to believe we are going home when I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I’m in Uganda.

My hope is that I remember this place and these people every single day. It’s easy to get sucked back into your comfort zone. And I know these people will never forget us – not just because some of them had never seen a white person, but because to them we have everything in the world. We have things that they may only ever dream about.
Several people stopped alongside our bus to talk to us when we were stopped. The interesting part about that was they all seemed to have a similar view of what America is like – a place where everyone has billions of dollars, unlimited funds, a place where no one is buried because no one dies, a place where everyone lives and a place where jobs are abundant.

Even at the villages, schools, and churches the people would tell us what projects they are working on and explain to us the fact that the only thing keeping them from getting the things they need and keeping them from moving forward is money. They would essentially be asking us for money, which sometimes we would have a donation prepared to give them. But even after giving them something, they would say thank you, don’t forget about us, and please remember to come back again and check on our progress (and give us more money).

It certainly made me feel guilty in the sense that I know I have been given a lot in this world, but I can’t give these people everything they need. To them, we can do anything in the world, but the reality even our group has limits. If there were no limits to what we could do, I’m certain we would give them the world – everything they need and more.