Friday, July 18, 2014

Crisis at the Border from Sr. Sandy Straub, St Louis

S. Sandy  Straub’s Diary -Day 2 On the Border Saturday July 12,2014
Sr Sandy Straub is writing to us from the border where she is volunteering at Annunciation House (see their excellent video on our home page to learn what happens there)

Srs. Sandy and Ida

Off to the center we went, Pat and Fred and me.  Ida had many Housemothers chores to do!  And I mean many.  We are currently five here with 2 more coming tomorrow and S. Marsha Allen and companion on Tuesday. The center was very busy with single mothers and children.  They mainly came from El Salvador and Honduras. The center is very well organized with many bilingual church related volunteers.  Their spirit is contagious and welcoming.
 I happened to say to someone ..I was free to go.  Quickly, the response was, you are skilled,  blessed and sent!  I am remembering this as I walk the halls and meet the families.  I have the thought that I am giving the ministry of presence to whomever I meet.  Those thoughts ..sent by CSJ and friends, joyful companions, good place to come home to, bubbled up in my gratitude prayer this morning.
 Let me share some stories from today:

 I talked with a 20year old mom who came with her one month old baby girl, Victoria.  She is desperate to make something for her baby.  She said when she got to the Mexican border 30 people were clumped together to cross the river.  The water was waste high and filthy. She carried her baby, paid the Mexican and came over to be met by border patrol.  She was processed sent to El Paso.  None are told where they are going...I think that is for protection.  She is off to Houston by bus 12 hour ride to be with her sister.

 Another mother with her pre teen girl told a similar story. However when she arrived on our border they had her throw everything away.  She got to keep only her bible.  Unfortunately her daughter had a Guadalupe medal and chain in a bag and that was lost when they had to leave their belongings .  She teared up when she talked about leaving her very sick mother with her17 year old daughter.  She will go to New York by bus with very little.

  A happy story... Two young women brought craft things for the guests to make.  They spread it all out on the table and the mothers began to make cards and bracelets, using glitz and beads.  One woman said she had nothing and she wanted to make a pretty bracelet to look pretty for her husband who was meeting her at the plane.   And she looked radiantly happy and pretty when she left.
 I have never been hugged so much since Peru!!!!!!  So much more in one day to talk about , but I need to go.   Ida is a delight and what a model!

  Love Sandy

Crisis at the Border from Our Sisters in Los Angeles

US/Mexican Border
We have all heard of the plight of many women and children who are crossing the border in Texas, California and Arizona.  They are coming mostly from Central America.  During one of the retreats held in June, it was suggested for some of us to be “first responders."  Sr. Loraine Polacci  and Isabel Malloy, CSJA from San Francisco, have responded by volunteering for  the month of July to work with Catholic Community Services in Tucson and Nogales with their program of migrant  women and children.  We as a province also have sent a monetary donation to the Catholic Community Service in Tucson.

Loraine and Isabel volunteered and received the following response from Tucson:

Your Sisters are needed!    I was at a meeting today with Bishop in the lead, the Mayor and 20 plus others from agencies, MX Council, and so on. One thing came up, that the Border Patrol is mostly men…and so they don’t have enough women to take on the “womanly” care of the children that is needed – relationship wise.  Welcome to the Sisters!

From Loraine:

…Dear Theresa, Isabel and I arrived safely in Tucson Sat. afternoon.  Judy Bourg, SSND is staying overnight as well.  She works with the migrant center in Douglas, and once a month does the "water drop" at strategic migrant areas.  This morning Isabel went with her.  I am staying with Michelle Humke to sort out what we both know.  Michelle says there is a meeting at CSS tomorrow about the sheltering in Tucson around the 4th.

…Yesterday we went to Nogales to a Red Cross training.  Volunteers will assist unaccompanied youth make phone calls to family--in their home country or their relative who will accept them here---  Great training with very good guidelines to protect the volunteer as well as the youth. 

 …Last night we went to the catholic social services training.  Volunteers will accompany women, their children and pregnant women who have been dropped at the greyhound bus station, to get to the right bus. Also house overnight those whose bus does not leave until the next day.

It feels good to finally have something concrete to do.  We are going to the bus station today for some more training. 

 I am so grateful for your prayers and support. 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Crisis at the Border- Update from Sr. Judy Stephens- Concordia

 Mural painted by visitor to Columban Fathers house.  S. Esther
Pineda is seated
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas organized a trip to El Paso in early July to learn firsthand the reality of the situation at the border now.  The group included seven women:  a laywoman from Topeka, KS, a CSJ from Wichita, KS, and five CSJ’s from Concordia.

The week spent in El Paso was a powerful one.  Our visits to Annunciation House, Opportunity Center, the Farmworkers Center, the Columban Fathers and Pius X parish brought us into the
Detention Center for children in east El Paso.  We spent the
afternoon there with 35 children, ages 5 - 15
midst of the crisis of unaccompanied children from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.  We were able to spend time with children in the detention centers through a program organized by Pius X parish and immigration officials.  It was a heart-breaking but meaningful experience that we will not forget. 

The situation at the El Paso/ Juarez border is very fluid.  When ICE [Immigration & Customs Enforcement] has processed children who have been picked up by the Border Patrol and needs assistance providing for the children, they contact agencies willing to care for them until family members claim them or they are moved to Detention Centers.  These children are placed in process for deportation, unless they can prove before the immigration judge (which may be years from now) that they are refugees in need of asylum. For a while El Paso was overwhelmed with plane loads of children and was in dire need of volunteers.  When we left El Paso on July 8, the situation was improving.  Ruben Garcia from Annunciation House has been the contact person for ICE in this process. 
This group from Pius X parish in El Paso works with children from

Our convent at 1837 Grandview Ave. has been opened for volunteers.  Sister Ida Berresheim from Carondelet, St. Louis has generously offered to be there and coordinate activities.  She is currently on the board for Annunciation House and works closely with Ruben Garcia.

If you have interest in volunteering in El Paso, please contact S. Ida at 314-630-0210.  The phone number at the convent is 915-532-7452.