Note: This letter was written by Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) member Tracy Hughes to her supporters on 26 July 2009. It has been edited for length. For more information on the CPT Borderlands project, please visit http://www.cpt.org/work/borderlands.
BORDERLANDS LETTER: “No one should die for the lack of a cup of water”
by Tracy Hughes
I just got back from spending the weekend at the No More Deaths desert camp. Wow, the desert is an endless expanse of beauty—mountains, rock formations, cactus, birds, animals, a lot of cows, dry riverbeds, and right now green trees and other vegetation. It is hard…to know that people may be dying in the same moments you are taking in the beauty of God's creation…
My first morning out I went on a water drop to Josselina's Shrine. Josselina was a fourteen-year-old Salvadoran girl whose body was found last year in February by some No More Deaths (NMD) folks. She got sick or injured and could not go any further. She sent her younger brother on with the group they had traveled with, hoping that he could send someone back for help after he reached his destination. People from the area searched for her for two weeks. One day a group from NMD took a short cut between two migrant trails and came upon her body. Her family from the USA and some from El Salvador came for her memorial service and to build the altar at the location where her body was found.
Last week, with a group of about thirty teens from Phoenix, we made prayer altars out of empty plastic water gallon jugs found in the desert along these trails. We wrote the names of some of the people who have died in the desert since October 2008. While at Josselina’s altar, I felt close the Phoenix teens, who were near Josselina's age. I felt close to my nieces and nephews. I also felt connected to the thousands of people who are fleeing their homes and communities around the world—forced out by war, hunger, disease, and poverty…
We were out in the desert only from 8:00 am until 12:00 noon putting out water… I felt exhausted and even in pain because of the intense sun and heat and the workout my body was getting. I know that I have experienced only a drop in the bucket of suffering that women, men, and children who walk migrant trails for days experience
As I reflect on Josselina's shrine and how bad I felt on my short hike, I continue to pray for the migrants in the desert today and those who will still be there tomorrow or who are down in Mexico getting ready to continue their journey to the USA. I pray for the family of Julio, a fourteen-year-old boy from Guatemala whose body was found on July 19. I ask that each of you take a moment to pray for the protection of these travelers, and to pray they have water and food and will find more along the trails to alleviate their suffering and possibly help them avoid the harsh death that comes with dehydration and heat. No one should die for the lack of a cup of water.