After seeing four countries, crossing the borders ten times, meeting many new people, seeing tons of new things and hearing countless stories of both suffering and hope, we are back in Canada. Thank you so much for reading about our adventures, and for all your prayer and support. We are so excited to share what we have learned with you and keep growing in our understanding of this issue.
The 2014 Uprooted Team
The day was a very relaxed day overall. We woke up and had a very causal breakfast altogether. Soon enough though we were back around the boardroom table discussing how this entire trip had impacted us as people. Jolene had us think about how we would approach people with what we learned. Would people want to listen to us? With all the information we have learned how do we start the conversation? Migration is a big topic and an issue that stretches far beyond one single thought pattern. For this reason it has been overwhelming all of us these past few weeks. So how are we supposed to explain to people what we have seen, learned, and experienced, when it is a complex issue for each of us still? These are issues that continued to be tackled throughout the debrief. After a little bit of free time we were back at it. This time with Chris, he works in advocacy for MCC in the Central American context. Through various conflict mapping tools he had us look at push and pull factors in migration and map the actors at play in the conflict and see how they are connected. With these tools, although largely oversimplifying a very complex issue, helped us put into context the things we had seen. Many of us have been left with a desire to do more than just talk about the issue. Chris showed us ways in which we as individuals can take on advocacy and try and make a difference with what we have learned. With the privilege we have, it has been said that it is our responsibility to do something with it.
Peace and Love,
Today was the day that marked the end of our time at the Southern Border. We spent our last morning in Tapachula enjoying a casual breakfast and wandering through the streets near our hotel. Some of us attempted to visit a cocoa co-op, however, this turned into an unanticipated adventure. After walking around for some time, we succumbed to the heat and humidity and decided give up looking for the co-op and get frappeccinos instead.
By mid-afternoon it was time for us to say goodbye to Tapachula. We piled into taxis and drove to the airport. However, right before we were about to board, we saw dark clouds on the horizon. Apparently Tapachula wasn’t quite ready to let us go. We waited in the plane for an hour before the lightning stopped and we were given the all clear.
We safely arrived in Mexico City and are settling back into our beds at Casa de los Amigos. Our next two days will be filled with debriefing, reflecting, and a little bit more sightseeing. Thank you for your prayers and continued support as we are on the last leg of our journey.
Today we got a chance to hear the stories of two amazing women. After a great breakfast and taking in the beauty of the lake we sat down with Mayra (whose restaurant we were at yesterday) and Mari, a friend of hers. Mari is Guatemalan. She first came to Mexico when she was 12, getting a job at a restaurant where she wasn’t paid for two months. She went back and lived with her father for awhile before crossing again. Here in Chiapas she met and married her husband, who is also Guatemalan, and they have three kids. Neither of them have papers to be here, though they’ve lived in this town for nine years. The system makes it incredibly hard to get these papers. They have worked hard despite a lot of hardship and have managed to get papers for their children, all born in Mexico. Before they had these papers the children were unable to attend school, not because it was illegal ( children have the right to education without papers) but because the teachers refused to teach them. Because of the kids Mari is harassed less than her husband who just a couple of months ago was arrested and beaten. I am reminded of Mexican migrants at the Northern broader because the questions they ask are the same as Mari’s: why do they treat us this way? Why can’t they see we are human just like them?
Mayra told us a different story. She has lived in this area for many years and has seen a side of migration we haven’t heard a lot about yet. Human traffickers will go to Central America and find young girls, telling them about a great job at a restaurant they can have in Mexico. Some are also promised help on the journey north after a short time of work. Instead, these girls are brought to work in bars, and forced into prostitution. Mayra began to meet these girls when they would come hurriedly into her restaurant in their twenty minute break for food at night. Over time she built relationships with them; giving them a place to talk, be heard, and learn about their rights. Though the system continues, she works to show them the light of Christ in whatever way she can.
The rest of our day was spent driving back to Tapachula, where we are settled in for the night. A relaxing morning and then a plane ride back to Mexico City awaits us tomorrow.
Yesterday morning we began our day with a trip to the border of Mexico and Guatemala. As we walked towards the river, to the right was the official border crossing. To the left, no more than 500 metres up the river, just like the opening scene of Sin Nombre, there they were. Using the taxi services of giant inner tubes, navigating across the river those without proper documentation entered into Mexico.
In a sense, our learning tour came full circle with this visual. Having seen the dramatic ending at the US Border, the pit stop in Mexico City, and finally the initial river crossing. Personally I couldn’t help feeling a sense of optimism in this spot, the journey for a better life is underway. I also wonder how many stories they’ve heard of this treacherous trail before leaving. Tales of inhumanity, injustice, and the rare chance of success. Whatever the case, their journey had begun.
We only witnessed the river crossing for a brief time, as we were then back into the van for a four and a half hour road trip to Lagos de Colon, the lake we spent the night at. The windy road gave us a wonderful look into the Mexican country side. Mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and a look at rural Mexican civilization had our eyes glued to the windows.
We eventually rolled into a town where we had lunch at Mayra’s restaurant. We would hear more from her tomorrow, but first we finished our trek to the lake. A picturesque utopia that echoed tranquility, the gang spent the remainder of the night checking out the waterfall, swimming, relaxing, you name it. An excellent opportunity to unwind as the end of our tour draws near.