Hi Val and Friends,
Today was my first day at the Respite Center of the Rio Grand Valley Catholic Charities, across the border from Reynosa. It was incredibly crazy. I saw 60 patients, many children, almost everyone from Honduras – although some from Guatemala and El Salvador. Everyone had children with them. There were many fathers with their children. The mothers stayed behind knowing their husbands could earn more money and hoping their children could have a better life. I can only image the heartbreak of these women. Often I saw children that looked shell shocked after a 3-4 week journey through Mexico and still, no Mom. Children were frightened and confused with loving fathers, hoping they made the right decision. Other children were left behind. Occasionally both parents were with the kids, but most often not. ICE has a practice of separating moms and dads but some still made it intact with both parents and kids – the rarity.
The shelter was full of people released from detention who needed help to find bus rides to family members – Los Angeles, Miami, Tennessee, New Jersey, Manhattan, etc. etc. etc. They looked so hopeful to have finally made it into the U.S. They wore ankle tracking devices and statistically still had little hope of legal asylum but were glad for their lives and a chance. Many were incredibly sick. I saw two young kids with temps over 104 degrees which I expect was influenza. At the little clinic room we have NO lab tests and very few meds. I spent $220 on supplies which included only the basics, and of those, many are already used. People are spreading influenza like wild fire but little can be done. We try to keep people hydrated and symptomatically treated while their immune system try to kick in but often their stress load is too toxic.
When we left tonight, the floor of the shelter was wall-to-wall refugees, kids and adults, trying to get some sleep so they could face another uncertain day. They are sharing food, germs, clothes and little space. EVERYONE was so grateful it makes me more humble. My saving grace is ANA, my sister in law extraordinaire, besides being a great nurse, she is fluent in Spanish and compassion! She makes people feel they are at home with their loving abuela/friend/nurse. I could not do the work I am doing without such a brilliant interpreter. My Spanish goes so far but these people’s needs go further. The shelter is open from 8am – 8pm but I will not be able to work that long tomorrow. Will go in at 9 am to check on a young very sick girl but hopefully can return home to check on Jeff and then Ana and I will do regular shifts noon – 8pm. It is an honor to do this work. I am very grateful for Hands On Global to help with this, my niece Carrie Stahl and her good friend Greg Daws.
These people here are such good teachers. They are resilient and kind and afraid without giving up hope. I am glad to be here. Everyday 100’s of new people arrive and the numbers may be rising soon even more. I am hoping to find out the need in the Mexican shelters across the border. I think they have nothing. Will let you all know.
Love you and thanks for everything! Georgia