In this season of Pentecost, will you join the Spirit Accompanying our siblings in Agua Prieta by making a small gift today to support PPF’s work? Gifts from $10 to $10,000 are needed to directly support this call. Donate here. Thank you.
Rosita stood up on the bench next to me and looked at the map of North America posted on the cinder block wall where we were sitting together at CAME. Centro de Atención al Migrante “Exodus” (CAME) is a shelter in Agua Prieta, Mexico, four blocks south of the real-life border represented by the black line Rosita traced on the map with one finger. Pointing at different places along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, she said, “there is a wall here, and here, and here…”
I was sitting with Rosita that day because PPF has responded to a call for accompaniment from the staff and volunteers at CAME – and I’m writing to you now to ask you to join PPF as we work with Mexican partners to build solidarity and safety along that wall.
Though only nine years old, Rosita has experienced the wall along the border first hand. She knows the risk of journeying north in hopes of finding safety. When I asked how she and her mom arrived in Agua Prieta, she said easily, “we came by taxi; the bus is too dangerous.” Thankfully, she and her mom arrived in Agua Prieta safely, and have found refuge at CAME while they wait for their turn to petition for asylum at the Port of Entry. While the volunteers at CAME serve Rosita’s family, they have asked PPF for international accompaniment to help reduce their risk of intimidation from the local cartel.
The coordinators of CAME tell us that bus travel to Agua Prieta is dangerous because migrants traveling by bus are often stopped by members of organized crime, who demand large sums of money before permitting migrants to continue on their way. Because CAME extends hospitality to people in transit, keeping people safe and circumventing the cartel’s lucrative extortion business, shelter staff and volunteers have begun to be followed and intimidated by cartel look-outs.
Escalating intimidation over the past six months led CAME to ask PPF to send accompaniers to Agua Prieta. I met Rosita in Agua Prieta in late March when I was visiting the shelter to learn how we might best serve alongside CAME. The PPF Activist Council approved an initial three-month commitment to accompaniment there, and the first pair of PPF accompaniers arrived in Agua Prieta on May 4. No justice work is totally risk free; but the risk to U.S. citizens is considerably less than what is carried by our Mexican partners.
The volunteers who have signed up to be in Agua Prieta through July are responding to the urgency of this request and the depth of the partnership we are growing into on the border – and I hope you will too.
In the season of Pentecost, we have the opportunity to reflect on how God turns strangers into community. Sometimes it’s through tongues of flame and the pleasant surprise of a shared language; sometimes it’s through safety in the midst of threat and a welcome into security. The Holy Spirit crosses borders, calling us into a sense of abundance unfettered by lines and limits.
This abundance is alive at CAME, and we have the chance to respond in kind. Even as the numbers of people who need housing increase, CAME remains committed to extending welcome, to doing more loads of laundry and serving more meals to strangers who become neighbors and friends. PPF accompaniers who walk alongside the staff and volunteers at CAME, support the community’s work of hospitality.
Will you support this work, and the accompaniers who are serving in Agua Prieta? As our government spends millions on creating violent structures and policies of exclusion, will you give to support nonviolent accompaniment? As the metering and exclusionary policies of our country increase the time people are forced to wait south of the border, will you donate to support the safety of those who create safe space for travelers? Gifts from $10 to $10,000 are needed and will directly support answering this call for accompaniment.
CAME continues to welcome families and individuals who have made journeys like Rosita’s. The community there tells us that the presence of the first accompaniers has been “a palpable blessing,” increasing the sense of safety of committed volunteers. Your help will make it possible for our presence there to continue.
I know that the PPF community is generous, so thank you in advance for your financial gifts, for your prayers, and for the ways you take risks for justice in your life and community.
Alison Wood, PPF Accompaniment Coordinator