Last week was a very rough week for me. Each time I volunteer at the border my heart becomes a little “more broken”, a little more tender and retuning to Austin gets a little more difficult. My trips extend from 3 or 4 days to 6 or 8 days.
Last week we learned of the tragic death in Brownsville of Oscar and Valerie from El Salvador. While, I have now been convinced that I did not know either Oscar or Valerie, I am aware they had been at the bridge where I volunteer. It seems as though I left on Tuesday and they arrived on Friday! My dear friends Michael and Victor, met them and I know, given the opportunity, they could have convinced them to “wait”.
They would have shown them that:
we would take care of them,
we would love and support them,
we would provide them with breakfast and dinner every day,
we would provide water for them,
we would provide medicine,
we would provide them with diapers and personal hygiene products,
we would have provided clothes and toys and books
and we would have treated them with love, kindness, respect and dignity.
And, if I had been there, I would have held Valeria and made her laugh and giggle.
But they were desperate. They arrived with nothing. They were not aware that when they presented themselves for asylum, at a legal point of entry, that they would be turned back. They did not know that they would told that they would have to wait in a Plaza or “on the street” in Matamoros for anywhere from 2 to 4 months.
And so, this tiny family decided to risk it all and to swim across the Rio Grande to enter the United States.
That brave, strong young man held his daughter and walked into that nasty, foul river seeking a better life! We all know the end of the story for Oscar and Valerie.
What we may not know is how this work and these tragedies affect the rest of our lives! I pray that their story will serve to motivate me and others to do more! But I fear that these stories are becoming so routine, that we will no longer hear them. I fear that these stories will become so twisted that we will miss the point. I fear that we will begin to blame the victims and not the situation that caused the desperation this family experienced! I fear that hearing these stories will make this important work TOO HARD and I and others will stop trying to help!
I do not know how my dear friends, Michael and Victor, and so many others are able to carry these stories in their hearts. I know it is getting more and more difficult for me.
I pray for strength for all of us!
You can help us help asylum seekers by donating to this GoFundMe page