I am grateful for the opportunity during the month of September to be in the presence of hundreds of migrants every day while volunteering with the Kino Border Initiative. I was with four other sisters in a project called Catholic Sisters Walking with Migrants. We are from California, New York, Wisconsin and South Korea (via Central America). This unique project is funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
The Kino Border Initiative works with one foot on each side of the U.S./Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. As a faith-based organization, the Kino Border Initiative strives to respond to the most critical needs by respecting the God-given dignity of the human person and by fostering bi-national solidarity through humanitarian assistance, education, research and advocacy.
Every day hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers find their way to Kino to be served delicious meals and provided with various other humanitarian services like psychological and medical care and social work information. Lawyers from both the United States and Mexico offer workshops a couple of times each week. Plus there is room for about 85 family members to be housed for up to 10 days. I feel so blessed to spend time with them, listen to their stories and understand better the broader context of the border and immigration.
The Kino Border Initiative not only provides direct humanitarian assistance and holistic accompaniment of migrants but also education and encounters between migrants and others, like us volunteers, that can transform people and communities, helping them recognize their solidarity with migrants. The organization also does legislative advocacy in both Mexico and the United States, working always for migration with dignity.
One of the immersion experiences we had was a hike in the desert, followed by a conversation with ranchers in a rural town in southern Arizona and a time of shared reflection about the legal issues of the immigration system. This helped us recognize the complexity of the system migrants must navigate. I pray this experience will transform me into a more compassionate, caring person committed to the Gospel mandate to serve a world in need. I encourage other sisters to look into participating in this Catholic Sisters Walking with Migrants program at the Kino Border Initiative. It is a life-changing experience.
Learn more about Sr. Doreen’s experience at the border here.