Tag Archives: digging

Day 8: Some pretty awesome ladies!

Today was day eight. I cannot believe that we only have one day left. It has gone by so fast, and I am very thankful that we write these blogs in order to reflect and remember everything that we have done from day to day. It is hard for it not to all blur together when we have done so much in the few days that we have been here.

Trenches
Trenches

We continued trenching our site today and were really shocked at how much progress we made. With two hours left we made it our goal to complete two more trenches, yet we finished those and began 4 more trenches before the end of the day. I think that I say this in every blog but I am very proud of how much dirt we have moved, how much area we have cleared, and the positive attitude that remains within our team. We are some pretty awesome ladies if I say so myself!

 

 

Today I had a unique experience of helping the Texas State team leads with intake. This is where we open up the body bag, coffin, patient belonging bag, etc. that exhumed, unidentified remains were found in and record how many and which bones were accounted for. If there is any writing on the bags or identifying features/belongings, that is recorded as well. Photographs are taken, and the bags are sealed up ready to be sent to the Texas State Labs for analysis. It was interesting to be a part of, as our team has not yet exhumed anyone or participated in this process so far this season.

Sister Pam
Sister Pam

Sister Pam came to the cemetery today – she is a catholic Nun who has helped in previous field seasons and is a huge supporter of our project. She drove 23 hours all the way here from Ohio to be able to see us this season, which we could not believe. She greeted us all with warm hugs and a kiss on the cheek before proceeding to put gloves on and help us move dirt. After all of the stories I have heard before meeting her today, I was not at all surprised. She was hauling buckets better than I could. She is exactly the type of woman that I would like to be later in life – stubborn, determined, and strong. It was nice to hear her talk to Dr. Latham about previous students she has met while helping with exhumations. Asking what they are doing now and so forth. Most of them have moved onto PhD’s or highly regarded jobs, many on the basis of what these exhumations have taught them and what experiences they have gained from them. It made me feel very lucky to be where I am, getting into the dirt with Sister Pam just like others have done before me. She is one cool lady, let me tell you!

Dr. Cate Bird was on site today. She is a forensic specialist working for the International Committee of the Red Cross. Which for many of us here – is a dream job. She is a supporter of our project and is going to report back to Washington D.C. on the work that we are doing here in Falfurrias. She has been with us for a few days and has been kind enough to make the rounds to all of our teams to chat and see what progress we are making. She was so kind to buy everyone popsicles on site today. It was such a kind gesture in the peak heat of the afternoon, to get us all together for a refreshing treat. Thank you, Dr. Bird, for being yet another example of what we can aspire to be in our field!

I’d like to end this post today with some things which have been on my mind the last few days. Right now, there is a government shutdown on behalf of President Trump due to concerns with border security. It is a bit surreal that we are here… at the border, exhuming unidentified migrants, visiting the border “wall”, participating in search and recovery with Border Patrol, donating to the Humanitarian Respite Center, meeting very nice people who are here to seek asylum, and working with people who are so passionate about this side of immigration that you do not see on the news. We are seeing a humanitarian crisis that is different from what many may know. It is humbling, and it is important. We are here to do what we can to promote social justice and I am very proud of that.

Thank you for reading along! We will be seeing you again tomorrow, where you can read about our last day of digging. Bittersweet!

Day 8
Day 8

~Arden

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“Cheers” to day two and digging holes

Hello everyone! Thank you for following us so far into day two of our Beyond Borders day-2January 2019 field season. As your dedicated mapping apprentice, I can tell you that after 22 years of doing little to no intense physical exercise, I am sore from head to toe. We have been at the Sacred Heart Cemetery for a total of almost 20 hours and I reckon 17 of those hours were spent digging or doing some other form of physical activity, with the other 3 consisting of water breaks, lunch breaks, and mapping/strategizing. That may seem tough to the average person, yet we have all thoroughly enjoyed the time we have spent there so far. By the time we cheers with our Mexican Coca-Colas at the end of the day, I can’t believe the day is over and we have done so much work. Time flies.

Today we dug 3 ½ trenches, some of them almost 1 meter deep. At our briefing last night, we discussed that previously at this cemetery, remains have been found as far as 140cm deep. So as a team, we decided to dig and probe deep today in order to be confident that we were being as thorough as possible.day-2-2 If we do not find remains in our area, at least we know that we have done all that we could have to be sure. Clearing a site is just as important as finding remains. If we clear our area and do not find any remains we can be confident in moving onto another area, and tick Area #24 off the list of possible burial sites.

I have never done an archaeological dig before, and I am learning so much so quickly. How to properly dig test pits, probe, take measurements, map, and various other methods and tasks. I am so fortunate to be learning mapping alongside Sammi. She is allowing me to help construct the map both in the field and when we get back to the hotel at night. She is mentoring me instead of instructing me which I really appreciate.

As you will read in Sammi’s blog tonight, the work that we are doing is impacting the community greatly. It is keeping our spirits up, knowing that the work that we do is not just meaningful and interesting to us and the families of the decedents, but also to those who have allowed us into their community.

All in all we have had a good couple of days in site. Lots of learning, lots of digging, and no lack in moral or motivation within the team. Again, thank you for following along; see you again tomorrow!

~Arden

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