Mother’s Day in central Maine was a good day for those who came out to raise their voices in support of reuniting mothers and children along the southern border. But it was also a day that left my heart heavy. While I felt proud that the event was so lovely and that so many caring folks came out to support it, I felt sad that we have a reason to have such an event. Friends, pinwheels, red hearts, white carnations, Mother of Exiles, seedlings donated from Cornerstone Farm, art supplies donated by Mindy, friendship bracelet making materials donated by Liz, generous monetary donations by family and friends who without them this event would not have happened, lovely hammered dulcimer music by Harry, speakers some who traveled great distance to share their experiences with us, volunteers who ran the tables, the media whose coverage was fantastic, my one and only hubbie/best friend Ger moving everything behind the scenes to make it all go smoothly, and the people who came to participate in something larger than themselves were all a part in this moving acknowledgement for the mothers who are not with their children due to our separation policies.
While gentle and soothing hammered dulcimer music played in the background of a gorgeous Maine day, children and their families drew on a banner that will go to Homestead. Others drew on peace flags and transplanted seedlings. As time passed, we slowly moved toward the gazebo, beautiful Kennebec River in the background, and listened as several women spoke from personal experiences while the crowd listened with incredible interest. Sometimes nodding heads in agreement, sometimes audible sighs of surprise over what was being shared. Diane shared about her experience protesting with religious leaders at the 30 foot high border wall where it meets the Pacific Ocean and what it was like to be confronted by fully armed military style police while they prayed. Michelle spoke of helping local migrant workers safely navigate their way here in central Maine. And Fowsia spoke of her long and arduous journey from Somalia to a refugee camp in Ethiopia and finally into the United States. She shared what it was like to flee war and violence and be separated from her family. Her story moved every person in attendance. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was close to tears. But what stood out to me was when she shared how she is often met with curses from people who don’t take the time to understand her and her story. Curses at her because of her hijab. The audience was shocked. I was shocked that Mainers could push forth such ignorance and hatred to such a beautiful woman. And yet, she continued on and stood by her belief that America is a great country because we have the best constitution in the entire world. “It guarantees free speech and expression of religion. It allows us to be leaders and be ourselves.” I found myself thinking of those who experience the most viral of our hate and yet still stand up and say how great our country is. Her strength and grace was awe inspiring to say the least.
But it was the end of the day and a personal conversations with a woman that I think will stay with me the most. We were cleaning up and she came over as her little daughter was planting seedlings to take home. This kid knew what she was doing. What an amazing young gardener! Her mother asked what we were doing with the left over seedlings. She said she was going to a farm in the area that afternoon to work with several young children who were from Mexico. The family (11 living in a 2 room trailer) work on a local farm. They wanted to come today but there are some new local police officers who cause them fear. She wanted to know if she could bring the seedlings over to the kids. What better use for what was left over from a rally to raise awareness on children so far from their native homes. She left with seedlings, pots, bubbles, and pinwheels. I can’t think of a better place for them to go and my heart felt a little lighter thinking of the kids having them.
So where do we go from here? I heard that question over and over again yesterday. I wish I had thought of having information available for those who so deeply want to participate in shutting Homestead down and work to end our inhumane practices of separating children from their families. If there is one thing you can do, it is call each of our representatives and tell them to become vocal on this issue. To stop standing by silently while this happens. Tell them to go to Homestead. To see for themselves. And then tell them to sponsor bills to shut Homestead down and keep families together. To find and contact your Senators, call here: 1-202-224-3121. To find and contact your Representatives of the House, look here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
Also, please follow our new FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/410924229751842/
Thank you. In peace and solidarity with the children and their families fleeing violence and seeking a safer life here in the states,