Why I Volunteer

By Emelina Rosa

Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES – I filled out a volunteer application at the Migrant Resource Center, leaving the reason I’m interested in volunteering blank, since I have already been accepted as a longtime friend of many folks at the Center. I have many reasons.

Tonight, I’m thinking about Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez’s death. She was shot in the head at point blank range by a border patrol agent, in Rio Bravo, Texas, who claimed that the group of migrants she was with had rushed him, although videos taken at the scene contradict his story. He has never been prosecuted for her death.

Claudia’s name is written on a little card on my fridge, so I don’t forget. One and a half years ago, that death was emblematic, now there have been so many more. There are both adults and children in detention who get sick and don’t get treated in time and die. Every year hundreds of corpses are found in the U.S. Southwest, dead from dehydration and exposure.

There is also an immense amount of abuse, illness, and exhaustion. There are women who routinely use birth control to avoid pregnancy when they are raped during the journey north, by the cartels, by the smugglers, and sometimes by law enforcement.

This is why I volunteer. To add my “granito de arena,” my grain of sand, to a larger attempt to keep people safe for the short time they are in our neighborhood, in our lives.

Emelina Rosa

Emelina Rosa is a long-time resident of the US-Mexico border area who recently began volunteering once a week at the Migrant Resource Center [Centro de Recursos para Migrantes] in Agua Prieta, Sonora. The Center was founded in 2006 to provide support to migrants who had just been deported from the US, supplying basic needs such as clean socks, food, phone calls, medical attention, and help getting home. Today, with hundreds of migrants arriving at the border every day requesting asylum from the US government, the Center is working with a local shelter (C.A.M.E., Centro de Atención a Migrantes Exodus, Center for Attending to the Migrant Exodus) to protect and support asylum seekers waiting in this border city to cross into the United States. Migrants and asylum seekers are threatened by criminal cartels who extort, kidnap, and force them into criminal activities. The U.S. government continues to treat their suffering with callous indifference

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