KINO BORDER INITIATIVE Nogales, Mexico
- Frances McCarron, IBVM
The KBI, a Jesuit ministry, is in the town of Nogales, half of which is in Arizona and half in Mexico. As you drive into town the first thing you see is the BORDER FENCEseparating the American side from the Mexican side of town.
At 5:30 AM on a Wednesday morning, three beautiful Companions, Mary Novotny, Lisa Grant and Wilma Martin, picked up Andy Wells and me in Phoenix
for the 31⁄2 hour drive to Nogales. This was a new adventure for Andy and me but a monthly trip for our Companions. We
brought backpacks and duffel bags full of clothes and toiletries provided by IBVMs and Companions of Mary Ward.
Andy stayed and worked on the American side, and we three proceeded to the Mexican side to work at the COMEDOR, a make-shift eating room that seats around forty people at a time. The throngs that arrived were asylum seekers mainly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Only a few were from Mexico. I met Lydia, whose husband was murdered, and her three children who walked from Honduras. It took them three months to reach Nogales. Many others’ stories were the same. The KBI staff at
the COMEDOR claimed it was the largest influx they had seen in one day. And so many children!
Mary, Lisa, and Wilma knew exactly what to do and I followed instructions. After grace and prayers, platters of tortillas and plates of rice, beans and eggs were handed out to those seated. When they were finished and left and dishes were washed, another crowd arrived. We served three shifts and cleaned the room for the evening groups. A doctor was in one corner and
a Jesuit was in another meeting those with concerns. Actually, they all have concerns. The service is open seven days a week. As each person left, a sincere “Thank You” and a hand shake were offered by the guests.
The asylum seekers have fourteen days to make their case heard. When they leave the COMEDOR, the women and children go to a shelter. The men go to the local cemetery to sleep on the concrete slabs above the ground. They all return the next day for another meal.
This beautiful ministry is both emotional and rewarding. For many years Mary, Lisa and Wilma have been living out the corporal works of mercy. As for Andy and me ,“We’re coming back!”