The scene has changed dramatically at the Comedor (the dining room) run by the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), (a project of the Catholic Church in Nogales, Sonora) where every day volunteers go to help migrants reconnect with families, receive medical attention, and for those who have been deported, to get checks cashed.
No More Deaths volunteers go in teams from Tucson to offer the migrants the chance to make a free phone call to families in the US, Central America, Mexico, or other far-reaching places. No More Deaths covers the cost of the phone service. Many basic medical needs are met by our volunteer medical team using donated supplies.
The number of calls made has held steady over the past few years, but this has now changed as well. In December 2018, 248 calls were made compared to 339 recorded for December 2017. We see this as the result of more people carrying cell phones.
The number of people being served meals at the Comedor has been much higher in 2019, with approximately 400-500 meals being served per day during February. We are seeing both an increase in the number of families and the number of people from Guatemala. More migrants, rather than escaping poverty, are fleeing violence, and are most often coming as family units seeking asylum. The second week of February, a group of 97 Honduran families arrived. It’s shocking to see mothers with babies in their arms without strollers or anything else to help carry them. Many have travelled on the top of freight trains with small children in hand and endured unimaginable problems while passing through Mexico.
No More Deaths’ volunteers also offer a check cashing service to enable previously detained and deported migrants a way to get their money back. This is needed, because upon release, the private prisons issue checks that can’t be cashed at banks in Mexico or a credit card that is hard to use and deletes money from the balance every time someone tries to use it. Sometimes money is wired to the person or a family member after they arrive back home. The border is a dangerous area to have cash, and the deported migrants are often targets.
The Kino staff are an amazing and adaptable group of religious workers who have an unbelievable capacity for love, patience, and kindness. It’s a pleasure for the NMD volunteers to work with them and other allied organizations. If anyone, especially medically trained people who speak some Spanish, would like to get on the volunteer team, please contact Nancy Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org