It Was a Good Day: A letter from a volunteer
A Homeland Security bus pulled up and out walked 30 people, most from Guatemala and a few from Honduras. Volunteers met them outside and welcomed them. As you can imagine, they were quiet but some offered big smiles. Once all were assembled, an orientation was given. Shortly after orientation, phone calls were made to sponsors so travel arrangements could be made for the last leg of their journey.
A lunch of hot chicken & vegetable soup, tortillas, and fresh fruit (they do not eat blueberries!) was served and people started to relax. A section of the room was for the children, where they could work with Play-Doh, stuffed animals and coloring. Coloring pages were displayed on the walls. The boys liked that we took blue painters tape and let them place it on the floor where they made "streets" where they could drive their toy trucks and cars. Some children worked on jigsaw puzzles. Also, during this time, a nurse met with individuals, new clothing and toiletries were selected, shoelaces were handed out (ICE confiscated their shoelaces), and finally, they could take a shower.
We learned that they were in cages on the bus. So, all of the freedom that we offered was well received. They really came alive after their shower and dressed in clean clothes. One man came up to me and made a point of showing me his new clothes and thanked me profusely. A snack of apple pie and vanilla ice cream was devoured. The man that was so excited about his new clothes, came into the kitchen and started preparing for the evening meal, which was a taco of sorts - corn tortillas, shredded chicken and shredded pork, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, black beans, and rice. Unfortunately, the man who worked in the kitchen (his profession) left for his final destination before he could enjoy this culinary efforts. Before 5 pm, some individuals were on their way to either the bus station or the airport.
Prayer shawls were given to those with very small children so they would be warm on their airplane or bus trip. After dinner, it was starting to cool down, so we opened the back doors where the children could play outdoors on the playground equipment. There was much laughter and smiles all around. The adults were enjoying themselves also. During this time, a family of one lady and her son arrived to collect them, as they will be living in the Valley. These folks have been together on this long journey and close attachments have been formed. So when one leaves, it is like a family member is leaving. Hugs all around. The little boy hung onto me. When he finally let go, he said, "gracias". As I walked him out, he reached into his bag and offered to return a toy that he was playing with. In my very poor Spanish, I told him that it was his.
Before bedtime, it was time for cookies, brownies and lots of coffee. Children drink coffee, too! Even with all the coffee, they are going to sleep well tonight - on cots and not on a cement floor.
In case you're interested, Google Translate is a good app! Well, it's back to the store to find more toys, bibs and, of course, food for the next time.