A month ago, I came home from one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I came home frustrated and angry. I was angry at the injustice, the oppression, the racism, the hate, and the corruption among many other things.
A month ago, I experienced how privileged I am, not that I didn’t know already, but I experienced it first hand and it wasn’t about the obvious things but more about the little things. The little things that we don’t usually think about. I realized that I am privileged because I hold a Canadian passport, because I live in a country where I feel safe walking down the streets, because I can get to work in 15 minutes, because I live within minutes of my immediate family. I am privileged because I don’t live in fear. I felt guilty that I was so privileged. But then I realized that I shouldn’t feel guilty. In fact, it is a blessing to have such things and such opportunities. Having privilege is the circumstance of my life that I should be grateful for. This however, does not mean that I should look the other way; instead I should embrace the uncomfortable reality of what it means to have privilege.
Coming home meant going back to living my day-to-day life, except now I’m constantly thinking of the stories we heard and the people we met.
I think of the people who have died crossing into the US and how they are remembered weekly in Douglas, Arizona through a prayer vigil. The prayer vigil was a beautiful thing to experience. After every name, we called out “PRESENTE” because they are present in the lives of their loved ones, in those who commemorate them, and now in me. To me, it is not a simple statistic anymore. These are people. People who risk their lives searching for a better one. People who leave everything behind. People who are hopeful. People. Human Beings. Beloved by God.
I also think of Carlos from Casa Tochan in Mexico City. I think about how afraid he was to go to the US but how he had an even bigger fear of returning to his country. I think about how his eyes got watery and how his voice would break every time he mentioned his family. But then I also think about how hopeful he was and how much faith he had that one day he would be safe and reunited with his family.
A month later, I find myself thanking God for the experience and for the people and organizations that work hard to provide people with resources and opportunities to have a better life. Such as the Fray Matias Human Rights Centre in Tapachula, MCC and its people who work for relief, development and peace building in the name of Christ, Frontera de Cristo and so many more.
I am also thankful for Café Justo because it has given me a deeper understanding of the importance of fair trade products, and because of it I find myself actually looking at the things I use and where they come from. Orsola De Castro said, “demand quality, not just in the products you buy, but in the life of the person who made it” and keeping this in mind I hope to be more conscious of the products I use, the clothes I wear and the food I eat.
– Maria Alejandra