Although I have been home from the border for a month, the experience continues to be with me. Shortly after answering the invitation to volunteer at the border, Peg Conboy and I found ourselves on “The Streets of Laredo.” Each day we made a new beginning as we arrived bright and early at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Care Center, ready for any good work. Our “good works” included preparing breakfast for 30, 60, 100…we were not usually sure how many we would be serving! After clean-up, we helped folks with whatever they needed—soap for a shower, clean clothes, a small bag of supplies to take as they began the last leg of their journey. By then it was time to prepare lunch! We did anything and everything.
The families who came to the Respite Center were grateful for every little thing we did. They had been on the journey for days, weeks, months. One woman from Venezuela had been journeying for two years! Why were they seeking asylum in the United States? One answer: so that their children could have a better life. By “better life” they didn’t mean a two-car garage or an inground pool. By better life they meant that their children wouldn’t starve to death or be killed by the local gang. Tears came to their eyes and mine as they talked about the overwhelming sadness of fleeing from their home country. Nobody wants to leave their country, neighborhood, relatives or friends. How terribly hard that must have been!