All posts by zimmera001

Day 6: Numbers

13, 66, 79, 160, 23. These are so much more than random numbers. We have worked tirelessly over the past week and today was no different. Our last full day in Falfurrias began bright and early for two reasons. First, we wanted to try and beat the triple digit Texas heat, but we were also so anxious to get started as we knew this would be our last chance to get as much done as we possibly could. The team was incredibly efficient with our line searches this morning and covered approximately 5 miles of the ranch with the assistance of Don, Eddie, and a third volunteer.

Team members conducting a line search
Conducting a line search

After a quick lunch break we serviced 34 water stations by splitting the route between two groups. Haley and myself traveled with Eddie and were lucky enough to come across a rancher who was so kind and supportive of the work conducted by the South Texas Human Rights Center (STHRC), and it really speaks to the character of the people  of Falfurrias.

Rachel carrying gallons of water to refill a water station
Rachel carrying gallons of water to refill a water station

For the evening we headed to McAllen to meet up with Sister Pam who has assisted previous field seasons but whom I had never met (all the wonderful things I had heard about her are absolutely true). We visited the border wall before going to Palenque Grill for dinner and live mariachi music. It was the perfect way to end our evening.

Sunset on the border wall
Sunset on the border wall

Our time in Texas has come to an end and I am so proud of all we were able to accomplish here. Our mission was to provide humanitarian aid to those who desperately need it, including both the living and the dead. Without the support of the ranch owners, the expertise of Deputy Don, the endless work Eddie performs on a daily basis, and encouragement from people like Sister Pam, our team would not have been successful. We are so humbled and extremely grateful to have such hardworking and generous people to work along side. There is so much work that still needs to be done. It can be overwhelming when we’re standing on an acre of land among thousands that still need to be searched, but with every inch of land covered, and with every water station built and filled we are making progress. 13, 66, 79, 160, 23: five numbers that mean so much. We installed 13 new water stations. We serviced 66 additional stations resulting in a total of 79 water stations that were filled with 160 gallons of water. We covered approximately 23 miles of rough terrain under the Texas sun by foot. For us these numbers represent lives saved by available drinking water, these are areas of land that have been narrowed down for future searches, recoveries and identifications that can bring families closure on missing loved ones. These numbers are proof that every small action can have a big impact. Thank you Texas, you have forever changed me and I hope to continue this humanitarian work in the future. Until next time!


Day six group photo

Day 3: Deep in the heart of Texas, the UIndy 500

Cows on the side of a road
Cows everywhere!

Another day in Falfurrias has passed us by and what a productive one it’s been! We started at the human rights center this morning to meet up with Eddie and discuss the day’s activities. Today was the day we would be going on to the Ranch to build all of the water stations that we fundraised for. We packed up all of the supplies we needed, headed out to the ranch, and was first met with a lot of cows! We saw them throughout the day everywhere we went, and while they were curious they kept their distance.

The team setting up a flag to indicate a water station
The team setting up a flag indicating a water station location

We then began building our first water station from scratch. It was slow going at first, but with each station we became more proficient and became comfortable with our individual roles during the process. After about six water stations we headed back to the human rights center to eat lunch and gather more supplies. We wasted no time getting back on the ranch and right back to work,  timing how fast we could build a water station as if we were part of a pit crew in our own version of the Indy 500.

Deputy Don's truck stuck in the dirt
Deputy Don stuck “Deep in the heart of Texas”

The second half of the day brought us to a section of the ranch that was too sandy for our vehicle, so Rachel and myself traveled with Eddie and Don in their trucks to put up a water station there while the rest of the crew searched another area. Setting up the water station went well but when we tried to leave Don’s truck got stuck in the loose sand! It took a bit of team work, some digging, a lot of sticks, and a tow strap but we were finally able to move out of the sand and back to the rest of our team.

Team members with non-human bones
Happy with our recoveries!

We then all loaded up in the trucks and drove to a less sandy area to set up our final water station. By the end of the day, we surpassed our goal of setting up ten water stations reaching a total of thirteen! We were also so excited to leave the Ranch with our arms full of bones from cow skeletons we found throughout the day.

Today we were able to experience a little bit of everything: we built water stations in the ever-present Texas heat, searched through sections of sandy soil, dealt with spiders, bees, chiggers, and ticks, and we saw, identified and collected quite a few (cow) bones. We are so proud of all we were able to achieve, but the reason for our work here has not been lost on us. The water stations we built today may save lives. The searches we conduct may help bring loved ones back to their families. Did we put in a lot of work today? Absolutely, but our work here is not finished. We’ve reached one goal but we’re only just getting started.

Beyond Borders Team Day Three photo
UIndy Beyond Borders team Day 3


Just call me Rookie

Finals are over and I have finally caught up on the sleep I desperately needed. I was so caught up in the whirlwind that is the end of the semester that I almost forgot how close we are to leaving. Six days (as I write this). Less than one week from now and we will be in Texas continuing the humanitarian work that UIndy has been a part of for five years now. I’ve been collecting the necessary equipment over the past couple of weeks and even after my snake gaiters came in the mail, it still hadn’t really sunk in what I am going to be a part of. As I started packing my bag today, it all kind of hit me how huge this trip really is.

After reading up on the previous field seasons, what I seem to notice the most is how different each season is. Even comparing seasons that had the same kinds of activities whether they were lab seasons or field seasons (or both!), each team experienced that season differently.  I am thankful to have experienced veterans like Haley and Erica who have both been on multiple trips to Texas because I can look to them for guidance. I am also thankful to have another “Rookie” on the team in Rachel because we will be able to share this experience together for the first time. I think this trip will be very different for everyone on the team though because this time we get to focus on the living. One of our main goals this season is to help build water stations to aid those who have made the dangerous trip across the border but are now caught in the Texas scrubland. This has been done once before with a different UIndy team but it will be new for everyone this time around, and in that way, we are all rookies.

This will be my first trip to Texas with the Beyond Borders team and there is so much I am looking forward to. I look forward to working with everyone while aiding a cause that is grossly misunderstood by many. I look forward to learning as much as I can in the eight days we are there and helping in any way I can. I even look forward to the physical labor and the heat, because I am just ready to be out there. I’ve got my sunscreen, my bug spray, and my snake protection. Let’s do this team, wheels up in six!