Sr. Susan is working at a shelter in El Paso, Casa del Refugiado, which just opened in April. The converted warehouse is already providing services to 300 people. It is connected with the Annunciation House, which has been serving immigrants in El Paso for 40 years. Sr. Susan has been with Maryknoll for 16 years. A native of Kenya, she said that she is learning some Spanish through this work at the Border.
Sisters Lil and Maggie are both nurses and worked together in Bolivia, but they have been in El Paso for several years. Sr. Lil works at yet another immigrant refuge center. The ten refugee centers near El Paso together receive over 700 immigrants daily.
Sr. Lil noted that the Spanish vocabulary is a little different here, especially some idioms. Sr. Lil and Heidi Cerneka (See page 6) had attended a number of protests together, one at Tornillo, TX, recently in the news for its massive immigrant youth detention center. Lil had earlier participated in SOA Watch gatherings and received a prison sentence after “crossing the line” at Ft. Benning.
Sr. Maggie loves her work as a children’s chaplain, but her doctor has her resting from her usual work for a few months. She came with a bag of tricks, jokes, and little gifts. Since she didn’t have children to care for, she kept us entertained with paper jumping frogs, little shirts made from folded paper money, and drawings she made of us. Her hands never stopped moving the whole evening!
The sisters commented,
- My hope is that Affiliates, myself included, could look for ways to educate the people around them. There’s a lot of ignorance about the border.
- People of faith need to learn to talk to each other, even when they have very different political views. We all want health, happiness for our families, etc.
- People need to come and see.
Sr. Maggie sent an email later saying,
God does not ask us to ask if people we help have all their immigration papers in order, or are they legally asking for asylum, before we feed, clothe and give them something to eat or give them shelter. I think we have to be people of Hope. The poor have hope because they have children and every parent wants their children to get an education, health and housing, and to be safe.
The Diocese of El Paso is still asking for volunteers to work at the migrant refuges. See www.elpasodiocese.org/.