After almost 4 weeks working in Tucson, I’d say I’ve gotten a little taste of the copious amounts of stress associated with activist work. At this moment, Mariposas Sin Fronteras is working on a campaign with Casa Mariposa (and other organizations) to raise funds to buy a new house.
Casa Mariposa is an organization located in Tucson that currently houses folks that are out of detention and need a place to stay, while sustaining contact with those in detention with letters of support. It has become an invaluable place for many individuals seeking refuge and a powerful force within the Tucson community. Unfortunately, they are going to lose their home in September. In order to raise funds to hopefully relocate, a highly detailed and strategic campaign has been created in order to continue their much needed work. However, due to the bilingual nature of activist work with Spanish-speaking communities, there is a heightened need for bilingual folks that can translate for only Spanish-speaking folks. When aspects such as testimonies, online campaigns, dinners for solidarity, concerts, etc., are considered, combined with a need for both Spanish and English promotion, one can see the amount of work and people necessary to support this effort.
However, the exceptional challenges have come from a lack of Mariposas Sin Fronteras presence. At this moment, 2 of the core 5 members are not in town, and only 1 of the remaining members can speak both English and Spanish. Couple that with other Mariposas responsibilities and life responsibilities, it can become very stressful very quickly. I guess I just never had the idea of activist work being stressful in mind, as something that could ultimately be a detriment to one’s mental health. I can definitely see that now, as many working at Borderlinks/Mariposas Sin Fronteras attempt to balance their activist lives and their personal lives.
I’ve found myself struggling with the work/personal life balance myself. While working 40 hours a week on top of separate meetings and other events, it’s been difficult to sustain communication with my family and friends. This is especially strained due to the 3 hour time difference, and the fact that my parents usually go to bed very early, just around the time that I would be available to talk. It’s been frustrating to say the least, but I’ve made it a priority to talk to family/friends at least once or twice a week, and I can usually find time throughout the day to tell them about my day and my work.
Stress aside, it has also been a very rewarding experience, witnessing so many elements come together to form a cohesive unit. The people involved in this campaign are some of the most hardworking and dedicated folks I’ve ever met, coming from all different racial/ethnic backgrounds in order to continue supporting those in detention. It just shows the power of love and compassion, and how they can ultimately transcend all boundaries to unite us in the fight for justice.