ANNUNCIATION HOUSE, EL PASO, TEXAS
- Jean Okroi, IBVM
El Paso was wonderful but an exhausting experience. I arrived home at night with no voice and a sinus infection. Every refugee was sick, so every volunteer managed to get some germ, too. Some people had the flu, others chicken pox, mumps, colds, etc. Took one five-year-old child to the ER. They sent him home after four hours and some time during the night he was taken back to the hospital. To my knowledge he was still in the hospital when I departed on Tuesday. Cannot imagine what it was like the for the child and dad who spoke no English being at the hospital. They came from a Mayan village with no running water and sporadic electricity.
Each day, I arrived at the Annunciation House hospitality center between 6:45 am and 7:00 am to begin working. Sitting down was not an option. My feet and legs wanted to leave me after 8 to 10 hours of work. Haven’t been on my feet for that long in 35 to 50 years.
The people are so beautiful and grateful for everything. Little kids just like ours full of energy, loving and noisy. The youngest baby we had was 5 days old (mother must have been given birth while traveling) and the oldest person was a man of 46 years. Almost everyone was 20 to 30 years of age. Even though I don’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English we attempted to communicate and frequently we just laughed at one another.
I found myself smiling and tearing up almost every day due to some incident. Today, I hold these people in my heart and prayers. They were totally dependent on the volunteers to start them on the next step of their journey. So many stories of people seeking a better life. So sad! Someone asked if I would go back? Yes, I would with a few changes to be made. Will see.
Can you put all your possessions in a plastic bag from Jewel food store? They did!
Jean was at one of the hospitality centers that Annunciation runs. They operate 13 centers besides Annunciation House.