The journey of migration can create terrifying loneliness and unexpected companionship. We always worry the most about the migrants who travel alone. The 19-year-old sleeping on the streets while he tries to find a way to try to cross again. The 18-year-old who came by himself from Honduras through all of the dangers that Central Americans have to endure throughout Mexico. The woman with a fractured ankle whose husband was still in detention and would likely be deported through a different border city.
But it is also fascinating and wonderful to see the bonds that form between deported migrants as they support each other. Such as the 5 women who met in detention and decided to travel back to their hometowns together – they decided that they would stop at the closest home before moving on to their final destinations. Or two migrants who have been in the US for their whole lives and bonded over being able to speak English as well as a love of basketball. Or one older woman who led a 19 year old girl to our shelter as soon as they were deported.
For these migrants, travelling together can be critical to safety, survival, and emotional health. This week, a group of 12 migrants from the same town were attempting to cross together. While sleeping in the desert, one was killed by a falling boulder. The survivors passed through el comedor on the way to their hometown to support the family and their community through this time of tragedy.
Just as it is important for the migrants to travel together, I have the privilege de no andar sola (to not walk alone). I write quite a bit in this blog about the migrants, but sometimes I just sit back and appreciate the love, passion, and humility of those around me who God has called to this work. Such as Sister Engracia, who just celebrated 50 years as a Missionary Sister of the Eucharist and who so passionately opposes injustice that she will never stop fighting against it. Or Sister Rosalba, who always seems to have an encouraging word or uplifting story for the migrants. I am also graced by the presence of Sister Lorena, who always has time to sit and talk about any subject on earth and teaches me so much through her spiritual journey and through her enthusiastic goofiness. And of course my time here would not be complete without my roommate Marla who works tirelessly and compassionately with the women in our shelter. Marla and I get each other out of or beds to go running in the morning and make disasters in the kitchen trying to learn how to cook (we also make some pretty good food!)
Even when I come home absolutely exhausted or hopeless as I reflect on the stories of the day, I know that I am not alone. Community is not just a good way to do service. It is the only way. I am so thankful for the community that surrounds me and I pray for the migrants that they might find travelling companions along the road.