Javier Hernandez was born in Mexico but came to the U.S. as a young child and lived over sixty years of his life in the U.S. Everything changed when he went to the Tijuana border in early January and has been there volunteering ever since. He arrives at El Chaparral between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. every morning, seven days a week, helping new arrivals and those who return three months later when their number is about to be called. He is the most knowledgeable person working at the border, the person other volunteers seek out for advice and help. He’s there long after other volunteers have left for the day to see who’s left and needs help. He takes people to get copies of birth certificates, to see the doctor, to get shoes for their children. He calls shelters to see who has room and will accompany them or pay for their transportation there if needed. And now he is the person who takes each family to La Casa, helps them get settled and feel safe, cooks for them, plays with the kids, and talks with the parents about their plans once in the U.S. to make sure they are as prepared as possible.
Sharon Franklin lives half time in Eugene, Oregon and half time in Tijuana. She worked as a teacher, elementary school librarian, and as a writer/developer of educational materials until her retirement. She volunteers with the Refugee Resettlement Coalition in Eugene, headed up the World Refugee Day celebration for the City of Eugene for the past three years, and works with OCAN, a group in Eugene that provides support and help for asylum seekers and local sponsors. For reasons she can’t quite explain, in mid-February she found herself holding a plane ticket to the border. She went down alone with no idea of what she might do once there. It changed her life. She met Javier and over several months and more trips down to Tijuana they brainstormed the idea of La Casa de Paso out of an obvious need they found as they worked together. When in Tijuana, she and Javier work together at El Chaparral and share all the responsibilities associated with La Casa de Paso. When in Oregon, she is the fundraising arm of this duo.