When I thought about Arizona and the desert, I was expecting it to be hot during the day and colder at night. I was wrong. It was just cold and windy. Thankfully, I had a sweatshirt, but I still wasn’t willing to brave riding in the back of a truck with 100+ gallons of water through the desert. So behind the truck, five of us followed in the warm van, watching the volunteers from CREDA and YAGM bounce along slowly through the rough desert trail.
CRREDA –a Mexican drug and rehab organization—and Aqua para la Vida (a US/Mexican group) work together to leave and maintain water supplies for migrants who are walking through the desert. Their goal is to try and prevent the deaths of migrants by preventing dehydration during the very long journey. Initially starting with bottles of water and eventually moving to 55-gallon water barrels, these organizations provide humanitarian aid that is necessary for life.
We were able to accompany CRREDA into the desert and see the process of filling the water barrels. It was a chilly day, and we brought packed lunches with us to eat. Almost all of the land along the border is privately owned, but these groups are given special permission to drive through it and put out water barrels. After stopping to give a hand to the ranch owner with the installation of something –no one had any idea what he was doing, but we helped anyway—we finally arrived to the tank. CRREDA people went to work immediately, cleaning the tank and then filling it with water. We waited, watched, and were invited to begin eating our lunches. I ate standing and trying to keep out of the wind, because it was freezing.
Suddenly, Sara –one of the volunteers—rushed back to the group and told us that there was a group of migrants hiding in a nearby ravine. Our group guide spoke with them and was able to learn that they were waiting to cross into the United States, but couldn’t go until nightfall. As we walked by to get back to the van, I noticed there were about 20 of them, huddled together, some with jackets and some without. It must have been awful sitting there with nothing to do but wait.
Without the water that CRREDA provided, these migrants would have likely begun their journey dehydrated. Even though the air was cold, it was still very dry. Waiting the entire day likely meant that they would have drunk all the water they brought with them, only to begin walking the several days journey north. Who knows what would have awaited them?
Regardless of your feelings on the legality of what they were doing, migrants are still people, and do not deserve to die. By offering this humanitarian aid and basic necessity of life, water, these organizations save lives of the men, women, and children that wander through the desert. It is never wrong to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and clothes to the naked. In fact, it is our call to do so; even if it gets in the way of our political ideology. God makes it clear that our neighbors are to be loved, so as we continue our Lenten journey, let us not ever forget who we are: dust and loved.
I confess that I’ve missed the mark. I have not loved you with all my heart, soul, and mind. I certainly have not loved my neighbors the way you have shown to do. Many days I don’t even love myself. I'm sorry I put obeying rules and regulations over loving others. I’m sorry I leaned toward the law and not towards love. Show me how to love more freely; others, myself, and you.