The New Year means saying good bye to all that troubled us in the previous year and welcoming new beginnings for ourselves and our loved ones in the new year. We make resolutions aimed at making ourselves better, healthier, more successful or more economically stable. We dare to dream and hope for all the things we think will make us happy and safe. We send blessings of peace, love and prosperity to our family and friends. But how far do those good tidings extend? Who is worthy of this peace, love and prosperity? These are common questions for people who work as first responders, last responders and in human rights contexts. While it is said that “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members” (Mahatma Gandhi), these professionals see the worst of what people do to each other. And yes, there are bright spots, glimmers of hope that restore faith in humanity. But shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the good outweigh the bad?
Each time we travel to the Texas Borderlands we highlight the amazing people we meet who are doing good and selfless things in the midst of humanitarian crisis and mass disaster contexts. But we have created a situation where we need these people. Issues of borders, migration, poverty and violence extend beyond recorded history. Yet, we have no solutions. If it were easy to fix it would have been addressed by now. Or perhaps we are just not approaching it the right way or with the right perspective. Part of why my team returns year after year is a practical and applied reason: to volunteer a specialty service that fills a need in the current crisis situation. Part of it is to expose the next generation to a situation they have a platform to address. The next generation sees the world differently than we do and I am continuously surprised by their innovative ideas and approaches to complex situations. They will be the change we see and we need.
During this trip we will be returning to cemetery exhumations for the first time since January 2019. We will be working closely with colleagues from Texas State University, Remote Wildlands Search and Recovery and the South Texas Human Rights Center. We will also be meeting new colleagues from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Exhumations are hard work physically and mentally because it will bring the team face to face with the victims of the border crisis. We will be in a new county and faced with many new experiences over the next week. All we can hope is that we contribute in some way to positive change and progress.
Thank you for supporting us and coming back each day to read about what we are doing and to learn more about the situation in the Texas Borderlands.