Sisters Rising Worldwide (SRW) continues to work with the remarkable American Refugee Committee (ARC). In early December ARC, seeing the crisis building up at the border and asked Sisters Rising Worldwide (SRW) if there were Sisters there and could ARC help in anyway. The answer was YES!
Enter Sister Judy Molosky, an SRW board member who lives in southern California. Sister Judy hopped on the phone. Through a chain of phone calls to Sisters working on the border, Judy connected ARC with Sisters living and serving refugees and migrants on the border. Without hesitation, these Sisters admitted their systems were overwhelmed with the surge in numbers and excited that ARC would consider coming to help. Within just a couple of days, the first to arrive from ARC were Carly and Amanda. They met the Sisters, listened to the needs and hit the ground running! A tool that ARC comes with is a strategy called Changemaker 365.
What is Changemakers 365?
The world’s tough problems can seem insurmountable. While ARC tackles big problems they also do what’s doable. Right then. That’s what Changemakers 365 is all about. It’s about doing the doable, effecting real change for $500 or less each and every day.
What does $500 worth of change look like? More than you’d think.
It looks like cots and mattresses – a soft place to rest – for refugees who’ve just completed their journey to a refugee camp. It looks like art supplies for kids who need a safe place to wait while their siblings and parents receive therapy for malnutrition. It looks like a fresh coat of paint for refugee camp buildings, brightening everyone’s day.
It looks like real change – every single day – for an entire year. As they go about their daily work, ARC staff around the world see new opportunities to do better, to do more. Changemakers 365 is about getting behind our staff and helping them seize opportunities to help people in a big way with a small amount of money. And it’s about showing our supporters just what a difference, what a big impact their support can make.
Everyday, ARC funds an ARC Changemaker, someone who is doing the doable and making change. For more information, go to www.arcrelief.org/Changemanters-365/
Tijuana and San Diego Border
On the Border between San Diego and Tijuana, ARC sent the talented and compassionate Carly and Amanda who first connected with the Sisters in the area there. Sisters pointed them in the direction of one organization – the San Diego Organizing Project – as the go-to people to support. Carly and Amanda reported that they found the shelter currently being used to provide refuge to close to 200 people per night was no longer available to them, so they were changing locations. But the catch was they couldn’t bring any of their old furniture, materials, etc. to the new location. Carly and Amanda worked with the staff over the next 24 hours to get the emergency supplies needed to handle the influx of people coming through and get them through this transition.
In Carly and Amanda’s report back, you can see Changemaker 365 helping make a difference:
“The auditorium was filled with cots and was the largest room in which the shelter’s guests sleep. Since these guests only stay a night or two before moving on to their next destination, we thought that a TV and some family-friendly DVDs would be perfect for the stage. As we set it up, a crowd gathered patiently, and were very excited when we were able to put Shrek on in Spanish! One staff member, Beto, remarked that this would be great for the kids!”
“We arrived in San Diego. We had lots of interesting conversations today. I spoke with one volunteer, Martha, who got involved through her Catholic Church. She’s spent almost every waking moment of the last six weeks doing what she can to help. She told me about one family from El Salvador that had fled because they were being extorted by gangs. The husband saw his brother killed by gang members, and then was told he was next. Their family was a target because they were doing well – had a car, a house, and jobs. He started receiving threatening messages and so fled with his family. These are the kinds of stories we hear often in El Salvador, but drives it all home hearing it on this side. And, it’s a powerful testament to how some really incredible everyday people are stepping up in a huge, wonderfully abundant way to help and hear these stories.”
“These stories reverberate from El Salvador all the way to San Diego. It’s really remarkable that Sisters and people like Martha and the SDOP folks are comforting and helping with tenacity and heart.”
“We were very well fed at tonight’s 365 project with the ladies of this migrant shelter, run by one mighty nun named Sister Adelia! Adelia has spoken to us about how a “light” had gone out in the women she serves….and she wanted to do something about it. She talked about how excited they might be to eat the traditional foods of their countries again. And boy was she right! Many of the women are from Honduras, so we got all the supplies for them to cook a traditional Honduran dish – fried chicken with plantains, cabbage, beets, and onions with some kind of delicious tomato sauce.”
“We spoke with another nun named Sister Katerina as people were queuing up for dinner. They are so excited. They are having so much fun. Normally we have to ring the bell and everyone comes to dinner. Today they just smelled the smells of this dish they love so much and started waiting right away. This is really special for them.” Tonight, that light was switched back on for a little while.”
SRW board member, Sister Judy join Carly and Amanda on the border and can be seen in the photo with the pink scarf helping serve up the meals.
Nogales and Tucson Border
The Sisters of Loretto have a commitment to lead border trips so that the reality at the border can become well known. SRW connected ARC members to a Loretto Co-member in order to learn what they ought to see. Soon after, ARC staff and friends headed to Nogales to continue learning from and supporting the refugees and migrants and the front-line workers providing refuge and service each day.
Over the course of the week in Nogales, ARC was able to help with seven 365 ideas.
- Provided food supplies, plastic reusable bowls for folks to eat from,
- Provided English learning books, Kick-start a little library for people to borrow as they pass through,
- Provided backpacks for deported people who have arrived back in Mexico, so they don’t have to use the conspicuous plastic bags given to them by ice, which makes them a target,
- Created a “kids corner” for the little ones to immerse themselves in, complete with the classic jigsaw alphabet letters mat, to adorable stuffed animal and more,
- Wrote thank you notes to the Inn Project volunteers with Starbucks gift cards, as well, and
- Purchased a special gift certificate for gas for one volunteer who does all the laundry – she drives back far distances from her home every day to do their laundry at her house.