For those who have left some of their children behind, I often wonder, how did they choose which child to bring? Did they choose the strongest to better withstand the rigors of the journey? Did they choose the oldest to be more of a companion? Did they choose the youngest, the baby who has spent the least time with their mother? And who have they entrusted to care for their remaining children back home? An aunt? A grandmother? A father? So may separations. So much sadness.
I understand a little of how these mothers feel because many years ago I left my home in England and moved to the US with my husband and two small children. I didn't know anyone in America. I had never been to Minnesota, never experienced cold so severe it freezes the contents of your nose, never experienced tornadoes, couldn't stand peanut butter, and didn't even know regular butter came in "sticks." I didn't know what the future held for me or my children and I was homesick, so homesick. In those days phone calls were expensive so contacts with my family back in England came from weekly letters and mailed photographs. But at least I spoke the language (more or less) and had an education and skills. And at least I was accepted. I will never understand how I was accepted and yet these people aren't (although I think skin color has a lot to do with it). What I can do now is work to humanize our guests and counter those that seek to dehumanize them. Look at that photo of a toddler. (Not a great photo I know but I wanted to preserve his privacy and he rarely stood still!) How can you see him as a threat, an enemy? He's just a barefoot child waiting for his Mum to find him a spare set of clothes and a pair of shoes. He's just a child whose mother wants to make sure he has enough to eat for the rest of his life and an education that can provide him a future. He's just a child whose siblings back home hope their mother can earn some extra money to help them buy food. He's just a child, not a terrorist, or a gang member, or a danger to any of us.
Volunteers at the monastery didn't want this special day to go unrecognized and so they decorated the dining hall on Friday. Mother's Day in Guatemala and El Salvador is on May 10th whereas in Honduras and the US this year it's on May 12th. If you would like to contribute to help us buy the supplies we need for our asylum seeking guests, you'll find information on the Alitas program donation page. On a couple of nights recently we had 500 guests - we need all the monetary help we can get!