Posts Tagged ‘Migrants’
The Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a Jesuit, binational ministry in Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, was recently honored for its work with migrants. “There’s a lot of negative press about the U.S.-Mexico border, and I think these awards draw attention to positive programs and efforts that are happening on the border and to the people who live and work there,” says Jesuit Father Sean Carroll, executive director of KBI. “It’s a real affirmation of our staff and the work we’re doing.”
The KBI was one of four organizations to receive an award for binational cooperation and innovation along the U.S.-Mexico border from the Border Research Partnership, comprised of Arizona State University’s North American Center for Transborder Studies, the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center and Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana.
The awards program honors “success stories” in local and state collaboration between the United States and Mexico. KBI, the only religious work among those honored, was founded in 2009 by six organizations: the California Province of the Society of Jesus, the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, the Diocese of Tucson and the Archdiocese of Hermosillo.
Currently, there are four Jesuits working at KBI — two from the California Province and two from the Mexican Province. Jesuits are involved in other ways as well. For instance, this summer, a group of seven Jesuits spent five weeks traveling along the Migration Corridor in Central America to experience the route typically traveled by migrants seeking a better life in the United States. KBI was the last stop on their journey. Fr. Carroll says visiting KBI and meeting the migrants can be the most effective type of education.
“We can show photos, we can talk about it, we engage people on the issues — all that’s very helpful. At the same time, when a person or a group is able to dialogue with a group of migrants, that has the biggest impact,” says Fr. Carroll. “The group no longer has just a theoretical idea of the issue, but they think about it in terms of this person or this group of people that has been so affected by the current immigration policy, and I think it has a very significant impact.”
In addition to education and advocacy, KBI also focuses on humanitarian assistance. Since its founding the group has provided thousands of migrants food, shelter, first aid and pastoral support. From the beginning of the year to the end of July, KBI served nearly 36,000 meals to migrants. Last year KBI provided over 450 women and children temporary shelter, and KBI’s clinic treats about 12 to 15 people a day.
“It’s a great blessing for us to offer those services,” Fr. Carroll says. “Our work is very transformative for us individually and as an organization because we serve them and we hear their stories and accompany them at a very difficult time.”
This summer, seven Jesuits took part in a five-week excursion through the Migration Corridor, the Central American route typically traveled by those fleeing poverty and seeking opportunity in the United States.
“La Jornada,” or the Journey, began in Honduras and ended in Nogales, Ariz. Along the way, participants learned about the realities of the lives of migrant workers.
Matthew Kunkel, a Jesuit scholastic said, “When people make this journey, they’re desperate. They’re not doing it because they want to break the law. They’re doing it because they’re trying to survive.”
The group traveled by bus and stayed in shelters, visiting human rights organizations and parishes that assist migrants along the way.
“If the experience was extremely demanding for us, I can only imagine what it would be for the migrants themselves,” said Jesuit Father J. Alejandro Olayo-Méndez.
For many of us, summer is a time to journey. A time to travel, hit the road and explore. Whatever the locale, these summer excursions often have one common denominator: a restful, relaxing, restorative destination.
Sometimes, the journey is anything but. On June 14, 2012, a group of Jesuits began a five-week journey along the “migration corridor” from Central America to the United States. Along the way, they have been visiting shelters, human rights organizations and parishes that assist migrants as they move through the migration corridor.
On a blog site they’ve established to chronicle their journey, http://themigrantjourney.wordpress.com/, the Jesuits say they hope to attain “a better understanding of the reality of migration and the difficulties encountered by migrants on their journey to the U.S.” The blog, called Journey Moments: The Migrant Corridor, includes photos and a map of the journey and is presented in English and Spanish.
In Honduras, the Jesuits met up with a group of deportees recently returned to their country.
“With little governmental support, the human mobility ministry of the Catholic Church, along with other initiatives, has established an attention center to receive these migrants. Here, the migrants are given some food, medical attention (if needed), and a personal care kit. As we ourselves saw, this return contrasted wildly with the festive ambiance of more familiar airport reunions. Thursday, in the back of San Pedro Sula´s airport, there were no hugs, no smiles, no balloons, no joy. Instead, the travel-weary migrants exuded only sadness, disappointment, and apprehension.”
Several days later in Honduras, the group visited a community in the countryside, about 30 minutes outside of El Progreso, where they spent time visiting with families whose lives have been tragically affected by migration.
“Victoria told us her story through grief and tears. Her husband is counted among the ‘desaparecidos’, those migrants who are never heard from again after beginning the long, dangerous journey to the States. Victoria recounted how her husband left their home in order to provide a better life for their daughters. She has not heard from him in eight years and clings desperately to the hope that she will find out what happened to him.”
At another stop in Honduras, the Jesuits visited those who have suffered devastating injuries attempting to migrate to the United States.
“Many hoping to migrate to the United States ride on top of cargo trains. The train reaches high speeds, with occasional sudden stops, easily causing people to fall. Sometimes, these falls are fatal. Other times, they injure people so badly that it takes years to recover. Meanwhile, their dreams of providing a better life for their families disappear. This is the case of Jose Luis Hernandez. On the train up North, he suffered a terrible accident, losing one leg, one arm, and four of the fingers from his remaining arm. It has taken him years to recover, not only from the physical wounds, but also from the emotional wounds: the stigma of now being disabled, the shame of returning home with nothing, the sense of being a burden for his family.”
We invite and encourage you to follow this blog during the coming weeks as the Jesuits travel through El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico before entering the United States and stopping in El Paso, Texas and Nogales, Ariz.
In addition, thanks to the magic of Skype, internet cafes and file-sharing, The Jesuit Post, www.thejesuitpost.org will also be following the journey. Founded in February of this year, The Jesuit Post was launched by a group of young Jesuits who hope to draw the connection between contemporary culture and spirituality using a language and tone to which young adults can relate.