Caminando con los Migrantes
By Sister Josephine Macias, CDP
From March 7 to April 8, 2023, I returned to the land that my own parents migrated from almost 100 years ago. They suffered pain and want but would not recognize the extreme violence and deep deprivation that current migrants endure. I chose to participate in Caminando con los Migrantes (Walking with Migrants), a program sponsored by the Hilton Foundation to involve Religious Communities with the work of Kino Border Initiative (KBI), to honor their quest for a better life and to be of service to those today who struggle to save their very lives and those of their children.
Programs throughout this month brought me face to face with courage and endurance. Migrants shared stories of struggles that included painful memories of relatives who disappeared; rape; murder; and loss of work, land, and dignity. They traveled from Central and South America, Haiti, and Mexico, relying on word of mouth that there was refuge at KBI in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Here they found security and a wholistic approach that includes food, healthcare, shelter, legal advice, and, most importantly, a welcoming smile. I saw faces that were transformed from stoicism or fear to glimmers of hope. I saw the resilience of children bring new courage to their families.
Along with working in the kitchen to chop vegetables for approximately 180 people a day, serving meals, and organizing donations of clothing, I participated in a daylong visit to a ranch along the Arizona/Mexico border where trails have been forged by Border Crossers, a term that is used to differentiate them from Migrants. Border Crossers are men who are volunteers, or conscripted by threat, to carry drugs to the U.S. Cameras on the ranch show men in camouflage making a perilous journey for the dangerous cartels that control the area. On the other hand, migrants are usually family groups who walk together for safety, led by a coyote.
I shared a house with four other religious women, who are all more fluent in Spanish than I am! Our international community included Sisters from India, Taiwan, Mexico, and U.S. (Indiana). We enjoyed many adventures together and, like me, will always treasure this life changing experience.