By: Ann Perri Olton
I knew when I returned from El Paso after volunteering at the border that people would ask me what it was like. I knew, after the first week, that I would talk about the eyes of the migrants we were working with. The migrants’ (referred to as guests from here on out, as this is how we referred to them at Annunciation House) stories we heard were each unique in their tales of fear, of suffering at the hands of gangs, government, and everything in between. However, the emphasis and empathy allowed in sharing a language was dwindled and replaced with reliance on body language, and as they are the windows to the souls, our eyes. The eyes of the guests were weary during intake, hopeful after their phone calls to their sponsors, and relaxed when they were in the kid’s room watching their children play while talking with other parents. Through the whole experience of being able to welcome these asylum seekers to the U.S. there are no adequate words to the spirit that runs through the shelter, other than that it is of God. Somehow, there were always enough supplies, food was always provided, and tensions were dispelled. Ironically, what was missing was an overflow of guests- not that there is a shortage of migrants, but that they’re not being released from the detention centers. If you are asking yourself how you can help, I encourage you to volunteer, to see the shelter, to see the expression of relief through body language for yourself. If you cannot spare the time or money to visit, which is understandable, I encourage you to call your congressmen and women, to support the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, and Annunciation House, so that more of these people may receive the dignity of moving from ‘migrant’ to ‘guest’ on their journey to their new homes.