Its been a little over three weeks since I packed my bags and headed to the airport with all of my belongings for a year, and I am just now wrapping up this period of orientation and preparation. My first week away from home was spent outside of New York City at a beautiful retreat center, where I discovered my newfound love for labyrinths and contemplated the difference between voluntoursim, harmful missionary work, and what I would be setting out to do this year. It was a hard week, as we spent a lot of our time learning and understanding the white savior complex and ways in which providing aid can continue to fuel systems of oppression. I also felt extremely overwhelmed by the century old repetition of oppression that was revealed to me as we discussed its presence in historical periods and studied stories in the bible that recounted Lords and their oppressed slaves.
All that being said, I have been thinking about how I should set out to write these blog posts without continuing this cycle. I want it to be clear that as a white, straight, cis-gendered, Christian, US-citizen female, I am coming from a place of great privilege in this world. Many people have told me how excited they are to read my blog and learn about the border more, and I am very excited to share my experience here with you all. I would like to encourage anyone that is truly interested in learning more, though, to read pieces from those who are experiencing first-hand the traumas we hear so much about on the news. What better source than those actually experiencing it. This is a goal I have set out for myself this year- to listen to the voices of those oppressed, rather than their stories being passed on by people who look like me.
The couple I am interested to read are:
And I will continue to share any more that I find along the way.
I spent my second week in Tucson, Arizona with 5 other YAVs and my new roommate in AP, Katelyn. While it is a really cool city, the heat there is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I had a blast getting to know Katelyn and the other YAVs as they settled into their new home, though the whole time I was anxious to get to my new home in Agua Prieta.
And now I’m here, settled into my little casita. I have been welcomed into the family of Frontera de Cristo, and have learned about the various ministries they support in this community. I am slowly making it to each ministry site, and am trying my best to understand the explanations in Spanish of the mission and work of each site. I have learned that I will be working with delegations that come to AP with Frontera de Cristo, to show them all the ministry sites and explain to them what they do. Hoping my Spanish improves fast so I can help translate for the groups along the way. I will also be volunteering in the Migrant Resource Center, where families waiting on la línea are given meals, showers, and a place of safety.
My understanding thus far about the path of the migrants here, is that after arriving in AP, they can try to find space in the CAME (Centro de Atención al Migrante Exodus), the shelter for asylum seekers. This shelter is the only one in AP and can only house 45 people at a time, so sometimes people are put on a list to be contacted when space opens up. From the CAME, the next step is to go to la línea, tents along the sidewalk that leans against the border wall, next to the pedestrian entrance into the US. This is where they wait for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to let them know that X amount of people are allowed to come through to begin the asylum seeking process. Only about 20 people can be in la línea at a time. They can wait here for days/weeks so the Migrant Resource Center (Centro de Recursos para Migrantes) volunteers walk the migrants from la línea to the Center for showers, meals, air conditioning, etc.
I am extremely excited to be here. I am currently looking most forward to being a part of the tight knit family of Frontera de Cristo, becoming a part of the community here in AP, and learning so so so much more Spanish. Please keep myself, the Tucson YAVs, Frontera de Cristo and those they serve in your prayers.