This summer I have been working with Mariposas Sin Fronteras, an educational non-profit organization that supports people in immigration detention and once they are released. We work to get them any help that they need to get out of detention as soon as possible, visit them in detention, and provide moral support.
For the past few weeks, I have been writing letters of support to migrants in detention centers around Arizona. However, this past week I got a letter written back to me. It was from a woman who wanted to thank me for taking time out of my day to write to her and for being a friend. She told me that she had not received a letter from anyone for months, and that receiving my letter was a gift. She went on to say that she hopes that she can continue to write to me and receive letters from me. As I sat there reading her letter, I realized that sometimes it does not take a lot to help. Often times we think that we have to create policy, change laws, or do some extravagant action to help. But no, sometimes the greatest gift is showing people that they are not alone. And all that takes is visiting and being a friend.
Through this organization, and the work we are doing, I feel like, for the first time, I have the power to enact change. Real change that can help the lives of people who need it the most. Through my internship I have had the opportunity to engage with people who are currently in detention. I have had the opportunity to get to know many of them through letters and testimonies. Reading their stories is heartbreaking and frustrating. It makes you feel powerless reading about their lives and why they came here seeking safety, only to know that they are now in detention centers. Nevertheless, the more I engage in this issue and this community I realize that immense privilege I have to be a part of this. The privilege to be able to fight back. The privilege to say enough is enough. Many of us share this privilege, whether we use it or not, is up to us.
Being this close to the border makes the issues that much more real. The human rights violations that are being recognized on an international level are happening a mere 60 miles from where we are. The family separations are happening here. Children are being housed here. Parents are being put in detention centers here. Here, in Arizona we are in the middle of this whole issue, the broken immigration system.
Through these first four weeks of working at Mariposas Sin Fronteras I have learned the need and importance of self care. This kind of work takes a toll on you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Seeing so much pain and injustice will affect you, and it is important to take a step back when you are feeling overwhelmed. Even though at times like these we think that we cannot and should not be taking breaks because there is so much to do. To take a step back does not mean you do not care about the issue, it means that you care enough to keep yourself healthy so that you can continue the fight in your best state.