Following is a recount of day 2 of a volunteer trip to the US/Mexican border, where we volunteered helping with the migrant crisis at the border.
8:00 am. LGBTQ Safe House #1
We arrived at the safe house where 45 adults and 7 children of the LGBTQ community are housed. The house has four bedrooms, men, women and children are sleeping on beds, sofas and floors. I helped put together a grocery and clothing shopping list. Dr. Peggy met with one of the men to provide trauma counseling. The men and children requested sweaters, sweatshirts, socks and sneakers. It’s winter and very cold in Tijuana.
10:00 am. Enclave Caracol. Migrant Advocacy Headquarters
All volunteers are required to attend orientation, tasks are assigned based on preference and professional experience. There were about 30 volunteers made up of doctors, psychologists, lawyers, law students, human rights activists, educators, LGBTQ activists and paralegals. All there willing to help where needed.
2:00 pm. Visit Second Safe House. 7 women, 4 children
Assisted Dr. Tanya by helping interview the women at the safe house with their personal stories for their medical affidavits. They all spoke of persecution and violence due to their sexual orientation. Many were raped by men who told them they would like men after the act. The women gave us a list of needed food and clothing. Their stories were full of pain, yet they were emotionally resilient and determined to find a new life in America.
5:00 pm. Enclave Caracol, Daily Debrief
Volunteers shared their daily experiences. There were four civil weddings, 27 legal counseling sessions, hot meals served to all that came in wanting to eat. Responsibilities were assigned for Tuesday morning.
Our group will be going to Chaparral in the morning (current port of entry where migrants can request asylum via a number system that is then written down in a notebook), with a supervising attorney and several volunteers to speak to the migrants about their eligibility for asylum protection.
It was a busy and highly emotional day. I was honored to be trusted with the details of their personal story by each of the individuals I came in contact with. The volunteers inspired me with their compassion and desire to helps others in their moment of need.