On one trip to the bus station David and four other volunteers, each with a family in tow, were told the bus was canceled and the next one would be in three hours. The asylum seekers didn't want to go back to the monastery to wait - not even to get a hot lunch. They had come this far. Their destination was in sight. They didn't want to take what seemed like a backward step. So everyone settled onto the hard benches in the bus station and prepared for the long wait. Then David noticed the young mother he was escorting looking at the vending machine. He asked if she'd like something from the machine. "Pepsi" she said. In went the credit card. Out came the Pepsi. But when David turned around a line of eager refugees had formed behind him. Another volunteer offered his credit card too and everyone who wanted something was given it - even the tot who insisted on a bag of Jalapeno-flavored chips. Credit cards work overtime at the monastery - there is always a need for something. Gas for the van. Granola bars for the travel bags. Shoes to replace those that are falling apart. Baby wipes, hand sanitizer, coffee, beans, tortillas, and on and on; the need is endless. (If you want to help, please see the donation links below.)
I cannot imagine riding across the US alone with small children on a series of Greyhound buses with no cash for emergencies, no cell phone, and no food except snacks that will probably run out after a day or two. And yet that is what our travelers do. If I think about it too much I become paralyzed with fear for them. The women are particularly vulnerable in bus stations late at night if they're traveling alone. But we do know that along the way other kind people will help them. We've seen other bus passengers slip a few dollars into their hands.
One last thing - I used to worry because I never knew if our travelers reached their destinations safely. We can't follow through on thousands and thousands of people. But if they didn't arrive, their sponsors would call us and since we don't get those calls I think it's safe to assume all our guests have reached their new homes. That's a huge relief.
Here's a moving account of migrants' Greyhound journeys that includes some photos of the monastery and its guests.
As always we are in need of donations:
Disclaimer: The opinions in this blog are mine alone and do not represent an official Alitas account. Any mistakes are mine and mine alone.
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