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Day 6: The End

Today marked our last day of work in Falfurrias for this season.

We began early as usual, meeting at the South Texas Human Rights Center at 7:30. Our goal for today was to finish the ranch we started yesterday. It was fairly small in comparison to other ranches in the area, so we felt that if we finished the periphery, we would be able to officially clear the ranch as of right now. Our team, Arianna, Selina, Eddie, Deputy White, and Byron loaded into our various vehicles and headed to the ranch gates.

In order to reach our goal, we split up into two teams, each taking a leg of the periphery. I went along with Megan, Dr. Latham, Eddie, and Bryon and we searched the northern border.  Alba and Holley went with Deputy White, Arianna, and Selina and searched the west border.

Megan and I waiting to take off in the back of Eddie's truck.
Megan and I waiting to take off in the back of Eddie’s truck.

Different from yesterday, we were able bring vehicles onto the property, so we were able to have a place to keep our gear as we were searching. This lightened the load we had to carry on our backs as we were navigating the brush, and allowed us to more easily search for clearings or paths going off the main road.

We systematically made our way around the ranch, looking for any signs of human activity. We had no finds, not even trash, until we were almost done for the day. Dr. Latham and Megan found a rest area with shade, new trash, socks, a can opener, and more. They found their way back to the truck to tell Eddie, and then the three of us went back to take coordinates of the area.

Can opener found in the rest area.
Can opener found in the rest area.

During this excursion, Eddie was trying to get in touch with the owners of the ranch next door to try to get us on the property to search for Byron’s cousin. We met up with the other team, and decided that we were able to say with as much certainty as possible that the ranch was clear. So we headed back to the gate. Eddie was still trying to reach the ranch owners, so we all piled into the minivan to soak up as much air conditioning as possible.

Tried to take a picture then Deputy White goes "Give me a six!"
Tried to take a picture then Deputy White goes “Give me a six!”

After about a half hour, Eddie still couldn’t get ahold of the owners, so we decided to call it a day and head back to the center. There, we ate a small lunch and sat and talked for a while. Byron shared a little of his story of how he got to the US, which was incredibly eye opening for all of us.

We wrapped up our conversations, made plans for dinner, and departed. At the hotel, we all jumped in the pool for a minute (apparently ticks don’t like chlorine), then showered and started to pack.

We were lucky enough to have everyone join us for our last dinner in Falfurrias! We went to Taqueria Jalisco, which is right down the road from our hotel. We ate great food, swapped stories, and decompressed from the week we had spent together.

Dinner party!
Dinner party!

I am so thankful we were able to spend just a little more time all together, giving our trip a tiny sense of finality, even though we know the work will never be finished.

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Day 11: Homeward Bound

alamoToday we made our way from Texas back to Indiana.  We are all tired, sore and sick with head colds. But we decided to make a detour in San Antonio before going to the airport. We stopped briefly at the Alamo and had lunch nearby.  We arrived home just before a big ice storm is set to hit the area.  Just because we are home, doesn’t mean the blog will stop! We still have a lot to tell you about our trip and will be adding posts and reflections over the next week or so. Thank you for reading about our work in Texas!

~KEL

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A Quick Tour of the STHRC

We’ve spent this week at the South Texas Human Rights Center (STHRC), and so I thought I would post a few pictures of what the center is like. The hub of all activity regarding this crisis in Falfurrias is situated in a tiny, yet cozy building right across the street from the Brooks County Courthouse. The main room contains a few desks with computers and papers, a central table and chairs, and is decorated by an assortment of posters, religious items, and colorful trinkets. Behind the main room is a small backroom that mainly contains water and donated supplies. Finally, the backdoor of the center leads to a small storage area containing buckets and poles used for making water stations.

Water Stations
A map is used to keep track of all the water stations in Brooks County . Sister Pam makes sure all stations are checked, repaired and refilled every week.
Water
Stacks of water jugs sit in the front of the room, waiting to be placed in the truck during a water station refilling run. Water is donated by multiple organizations and people around the community.
Decorations
The colorful center is incredibly decorated by various signs and posters that generally symbolize hope and respect for migrants and their families. Many of these posters have at one time been used to bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis. Others are donations.
Eddie and Priscilla
Eddie and Priscilla discuss upcoming strategies. Priscilla, an intern from the University of Pittsburgh, is often busy making phone calls to families of the missing in hopes of obtaining as much information as possible that could aid in finding their loved one. Eddie, the director of the center, continually offers advice and support for interns and volunteers. His passion for the human rights center’s work is unrelenting.
Eddie and Pam
Eddie and Sister Pam discuss recent the good news of obtaining additional missing persons reports. Sister Pam works tirelessly, approaching the crisis from every direction possible. The only time she isn’t smiling is when she is concentrating very hard. Her smile brings a positive aura to the center that resonates as bright as the colorful decorations that don the walls.
Pam Teaches
Sister Pam teaches Justin how to build flag poles used for water stations. No job scares Sister Pam. From climbing over ranch fences to repair water stations to carrying giant buckets, Sister Pam constantly leads and inspires those around her and working with her.
Agua
Water buckets and DIY flag poles are stored behind the center. Sister Pam and the human rights center currently has around 70 water stations available around Brooks County for migrants to use if needed. Their goal is 100 as soon as possible.

This cozy center has been our home this past week, but can be home to anyone who would like to volunteer their time.

If you are interested in assisting the South Texas Human Rights Center, visit their website at http://southtexashumanrights.org/ and contact Eddie. I promise you will become inspired and proud in the process. The team at the STHRC is second to none, and has taught us new ways to engage and address this crisis. I am extremely thankful to have joined their team this week.

Ryan

 

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