Soapy bubbles flew through the air as I scrubbed dirty dishes. Steam from beans simmering in the kitchen drifted throughout the room. Voices in diverse languages bounced off the walls, laughter filling the air. Standing alongside others from varying backgrounds, none of us speaking the same language, I still felt an overwhelming sense of community in the kitchen. Working in the Comedor, a center for migrants run by Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Sonora, I knew this was a place of community and solidarity. While volunteering in the center, I worked alongside a man I knew as Jesús.
As my peers and I sat captivated by Jesús’ story, he suddenly explained to us how even though us coming down to Mexico is a start, it isn’t enough, there needs to be more to the story. This was a watershed in my life, a moment that changed me for the better. I knew I had to follow a path of intense advocacy. One thing I, along with two other peers, have done to support refugees and migrants is begin Oregon’s first Kino Teens club. Kino Teens advocates for humane immigration reform through education from youth to youth. Recently, we have joined with the organization Thrive, who connects refugee youth with American high school students. Partnered with Thrive, Kino Teens will work directly with the marginalized refugee population to change how youth view immigration and the need for reform in the upcoming months.
Beginning to work with refugee youth has brought me to realize how accompaniment goes right along with advocacy. One must be in solidarity with others and accompany them on their journey to fully advocate and fight for justice. Though my efforts to accompany and advocate for refugees may be a small movement, it is a drop in a bucket that will soon overflow and bring lasting change to the refugee and immigrant community.
What’s one thing you have done or will do in 2020 to help refugees and other forcibly displaced people heal, learn, and determine their own futures? Need some ideas – check out our campaign page to learn more #Do1Thing.