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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.

Map of Brooks County with push pins labeled with numbers to identify where water stations are located
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.
Stacks of milk crates filled with jugs of water infront of a window in the South Texas Human Rights Center
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.
Colorful Decorations and posters on a mantle near a workstation in the South Texas Human Rights Center
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.
Director of the South Texas Human Rights Center, Eddie, engaged in a discussion with Priscilla in front of a South Texas Human Rights Center poster in the center
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 Sister Pam discuss as she sits infront of a computer in the STHRC
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.
Sister Pam with a drill showing Justin how to build flag poles for water stations
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.
Stacks of water barrels, flagpoles, and barrel tops all organized in a storage area outdoors
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 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.


Update: STHRC Internship

I have a quick and exciting update for our readers (and on that note, always a sincere “Thank you!!” to all of our readers) since my last post from past summer. At the end of this summer, I will be moving back to Texas to start an internship at the South Texas Human Rights Center.  This is a transition that I’ve been hoping for, and I absolutely can’t wait to begin working with the center.South Texas Human Rights Center logo with a simple all black eye and an animated green plant in the center

As graduate students, we fine-tune our skills within a confined specialty. We learn everything there is to know about how bones work in our bodies, what they look like when altered (broken, burned, buried for a long time, etc.) and how we can apply this knowledge to assist law enforcement. We are trained as scientists, and so we learn how to form and test hypotheses and how to prevent any source of bias from affecting our interpretation of the results.  We learn how to put emotion aside so that it doesn’t distort our vision.

Most importantly, we learn that a holistic approach is imperative to understanding what we see, and so that is what I am excited to expand upon by taking this internship. I likely won’t see too many bones. Instead, I’ll be looking at personal artifacts, organizing missing persons data, filling water stations, listening to distress calls, and ultimately trying to put any pieces together that might help locate the remains of a missing loved one. I’ll be working alongside professions that I’ve never worked with before. I’m excited to see these different perspectives and hopefully I will be able to use my knowledge to contribute in new ways that are revealed by these new perspectives.

An additional note that I should include is that I will be replacing Hailey Duecker, who recently received her Master’s degree from Texas State University and is moving to the University of Florida to begin her Ph.D. work. She has been at the Center since December 2014. Hailey and I were undergrads together at Texas State University and were some of the first undergraduate volunteers at the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility. I am elated and honored to be picking up her work; her work ethic is second to none and I am eager to try and match it. It’s funny how life works sometimes: even after we chose to study at different institutions for graduate school, somehow we ended up right back together to assist with this crisis.

We are about to head back to Texas for another season of human rights work. With my upcoming internship in mind, I am going to constantly think about how I might be able to help when I start my internship. My eyes will be more open than ever, looking for those opportunities that I might have not seen before. More updates will follow with what we find!