Giving the Gift of Warmth

“Kitchen” for five families in a shelter in need of heat and hot water in Juarez, Mexico.

“I sent my daughter across yesterday,” said a defeated, young mother in a refugee camp in Matamoros.

Those words were uttered from a Honduran mother as she sat around a campfire with a woman volunteer from the United States. She sent her sick 9 year old child across the US border, alone.

The volunteer’s account: “Her daughter is nine years old. Violeta had stood near the bridge and watched her child leave. She waited until an officer took custody, and then Violeta walked back to her tent. Alone. ‘I couldn’t let her suffer anymore,’ Violeta explained.”

This is what desperate parents who have fled unimaginable violence and who have been illegally detained in Mexico are being forced to do. They are sending their sick children alone, across the United States border as winter settles in because that is the only way their child(ren) will be allowed entry and access to medical care. They do not know if they will see their child(ren) again. This is what it has come to.

It is hard for us who live a “normal” life in the United States to understand the desperation and pain thousands are suffering with along our border. This is just one story coming from the borderlands. Just one. Everyday I receive stories from friends who work and live along the border. And every story seems to be worse than the story before it.

After feelings of desperation settle in we ask, “What can we do?” Well for one, we can listen and look. We can pay attention. It’s hard. I know it’s hard. I want to turn away too and go back to life without such sadness. But that is not the right thing to do. Actually, doing that is morally wrong on every level.

What is happening along our southern border and at detention camps and prison cells across our country is blatant and historic abuse. We have seen this before and it is rightfully labeled, genocide. Here, in our country, by our government, on our land, and on our watch. It is so very, very wrong. It cuts through our core and deeply threatens who we are as a people.

The entire world is watching the humanitarian crisis unravel on our southern border. They are also watching our response to it. They are watching as it is being orchestrated and carried out by our government and many recognize it for what it is because they too have experienced this. Can we take a minute to stop and absorb that? Genocide in the USA in 2019 directed by our government. Sadly, this is not the first time our country has committed this crime (think Indigenous genocide that has been occurring for 500 years). History has not treated us well because of that. It will not treat us well for this either unless we use our power to stop it. It is our decision; will history note our resistance to it, or not? How do we want to be remembered? Because we will be remembered by our response. Did we show up, rise up, speak up or sit idly by?

Please be patient while I do something I have never done before. I am going to beg. I beg you to look. I beg you to see. I beg you to get out of your safe comfort zone and show up, say something, do something. One thing you can do is help those who are working so hard and with such desperation to provide humanitarian aid to those in so much pain at the border.

Something we have learned about, and I was sadly a witness to the effects of, is the use of ice boxes or hieleras along our border. Coming into the US, asylum seekers are put into these freezing cells. The experiences they recount are awful. Now in shelters they are still cold. It’s winter. Many shelters do not have heat or hot water. Something simple we can do is provide warmth. Seems like we can do that.

After speaking with the incredible woman whom I spent time with working in shelters in Juarez, she informed me of the need for heaters and water heaters to provide heat in one of the larger shelters. Please know that the people I met who are living there while they wait for their asylum hearings, are good, kind people. They are traumatized and they are in incredible pain. And in all honesty, so are the people helping them. While most of us can’t be there to help those who have put their lives on hold to help, we can support their work this way. Please donate towards heating and hot water for this shelter in the mountains of Juarez. Please give as generously as you can but anything will help. Then share this post and/or fundraiser link with your friends, family, and on social media.

Let’s get the hot water flowing and some heat turned on.

Thank you. During this holiday season may we take time to help those who are suffering because of our policies. May we give of ourselves and help their children like we would hope someone would help ours.

Give here:

In deep gratitude. Happy Holidays,



One thought on “Giving the Gift of Warmth

  1. Thank You, Maryellen. I am fashioning a letter to my family and grandchildren with all the links I can include to donate to the migrants along the border as our Christmas gifting. Barb Lemmon


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