October Updates: Border Encounters, Conferences, Projects and more
October has been a full month of Border Encounters for the Abara Team. We hosted back to back visits from Midland Texas’ First Presbyterian Church and Austin Texas’ Gateway Church. Reflecting on her experience, Carrie McKean, leader of the Midland group, writes: “Abara provides an excellent opportunity to explore the realities of our border. They provide both an educational framework and the opportunity to see first-hand the impact of policies on people. They also provide opportunities to connect and serve and engage in meaningful ways.”
This past week, Abara hosted a group from Peace of Christ Church in Austin, TX followed up by a group from Coracle, an organization offering spiritual formation and channels for kingdom action based in Northern Virginia. Coracle Border Encounter participants were uniquely prepared to embark on learning and serving trips in El Paso/Juárez; they came to us from Guatemala, after a few days’ stay, exploring push factors for Central American migrants and meeting with families affected by tough American immigration policies and deportations.
Check out this excerpt from an article published on Coracle’s online journal: “And now as we have returned to our homes, we wonder how we can be part of this story of hope as well. The borderlands are not only in El Paso, they are here, in Northern VA/DC, in our own backyards. The refugees fleeing Guatemala, passing through El Paso/Cd Juarez are ending up here in our communities. Will the church stand with them when it seems that everyone else is abandoning them? Will we take up the cause of the oppressed?”
October 9th-12th, Sami, Gustavo, Keisha and Jen attended the CCDA National Conference in Dallas, TX, while Blanca stayed in El Paso to attend a training with Hope Border Institute. Both of these events offered opportunities for the Abara team to connect with others engaged in similar peacemaking efforts in this region and in communities all around the world.
In recent weeks, Blanca has been able to attend immigration court hearings and learn more about the legal process as it continues to evolve. She and Keisha have also been engaged in coordinating sponsor families for asylees currently in Texas ICE detention centers after making it past MPP.
Last week, Abara co-sponsored a Día de los Muertos event hosted by COESPO in Juárez, offering face-painting and other festivities to children camped out near the international bridge. Blanca has also taken advantage of tourist spots and events held in Juárez to give teenage girls stuck in shelters exposure to Mexican art and culture.
Ongoing projects sponsored by Abara include a water filtration and storage system at a large shelter in Juárez, bunk bed installations at a different shelter, and other social entrepreneurship ventures for migrants unable to get work permits in México.
Border Encounter participants continue to play roles in development projects, donation drops, grocery runs, etc… We’re thankful for everyone who has taken the time to come and engage with issues of migration impacting our Borderland region. Continue to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @abarafrontiers.