By: Pat Rader
I just returned from 15 days on the border with Sr. Connie Bach and five other volunteers. Our experience was to live and work at a refugee shelter, Casa De Refugiado, in El Paso. What an exhausting and thought provoking experience this proved to be. Together with the rest of my team, we spent 14 days working much more than our eight hour shifts. As the guests arrived at our shelter (a former warehouse) from their ICE bus, they were greeted with food and water. Next came an intake process, a visit to a hygiene room and clothing room to get what they needed. A playroom was set up while we were there for the many children at the facility. And a makeshift clinic was also available. We prepared food, mopped, passed out supplies, sorted donations, took guests to their airport and bus station, made phone calls, watched children, did laundry, packed food, vacuumed, cleaned showers and got a small taste of what it is like to be someone seeking a better life in another country. Along with the latter comes the realization of how lucky we are to live in a safe country. While there we had many discussions about our responsibility regarding the border crisis. . . as Americans, as humanitarians, as Christians. One longterm volunteer shared her response when overwhelmed with so many issues. She asks “What’s mine to do today?” What a valuable takeaway . . . whether working at the border or in our regular, everyday life.
This is my second volunteer experience with Sr. Connie and I’d like to thank her and the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ for providing me this opportunity. I’m still processing it, have shared what I learned with others, and will continue to ask, “What’s mine to do today?”