Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Foundry volunteer returns to the Mexican border

A guide from No More Deaths talks to a Foundry VIM team in the Sonoran desert south of Tucson in 2009.From Bill Jordan:

In October 2009, I had the opportunity to go on a VIM trip with Foundry to the Arizona/Mexico border with a group called Borderlinks. It was a great trip and I learned a lot.

I work in a clinic in D.C. where many of our patients are from Central America or Mexico, and a good number of them are undocumented. I see the effect of our broken immigration system every day on people who have very little hope of ever legalizing their status in this country. I wanted to see for myself what it was like on a portion of our southern border, and ever since I came back I've been looking for a way to make a return trip.

As part of the Borderlinks trip, Foundry members met with a guide from No More Deaths who took us on a hike through the desert (see photo). No More Deaths is an organization based in Tucson that is trying to address the humanitarian crisis in the Arizona desert by leaving water in the desert and searching for those who might have become lost. I will be going to Tucson and then on to Nogales, Mexico, for an alternative spring break from March 19-26.

In Nogales, No More Deaths provides help at aid stations on the Mexican side, by providing first aid and by helping migrants who have been deported make contact with their families in various parts of Mexico. I am very much looking forward to this return trip and will let people know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Remembering Haiti on Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, a reminder for some that life is short...and precious...and unpredictable. This picture of sunrise over the small town of Mellier in the Western Department of Haiti was taken at a pensive moment during my recent church work trip. On that morning, I was thankful to not be working, thankful to not be moving fast like I always do and not talking so much and to just stand still in the beauty of the moment. I remember not wanting to leave that place, to leave that moment in time. The fields and mountains felt so peaceful, the neighbors tending crops so friendly, the air soft and forgiving. Yet, I knew that it could not last forever.

A few days later, back in Port-au-Prince, a small 4.1 scale earthquake shook the earth once again and perhaps woke everyone out of any small sense of normalcy that has slowly grown. Me personally, I didn't even feel it. Yet, everyone could feel the worry, and then the sad memories seeping back into the social fabric. Perhaps nothing was physically broken in Port-au-Prince that day, but it reminded all of us that each day is unpredictable. We have a choice to either fear the uncertainty, or to embrace the possibilities...to hold on to the pain and anger, or to let go of all that holds us back.

My husband, Mark, and I are hoping to join our church this Lenten season in what they are calling a "money fast"...only making purchases for the week at one time and not spending anything that isn't absolutely necessary. (So, no chai lattes, unless I make them myself.) It seems like a very small exercise towards letting go of that which we don't really need, and embracing something healthier. So, I think I will hold onto this sunrise picture of Mellier during Lent, in order to help me to keep my perspective. I can reflect back on that morning and remember that the most precious moments in life are usually free.