Blog Entry – 23 March, 2020
I’ve put off writing an update on the border because everything was so up in the air and changing constantly. Now I think that is the way it actually will be for a while, so here goes.
I’ve been home in Oregon for about six weeks with a plan to return to Tijuana in a week. We all know that is not happening. I’m hunkered down here in my condo like everyone else I know.
When I left on Feb. 20, we had been very busy, and for a couple weeks after that as well. But when I began to hear more and more about the cv, I knew we had to make some huge decisions re La Casa. Javier and I, after many talks, decided on a few things we needed to do.
1. To keep the house safe, we decided we couldn’t have people stay there until this is over, both to protect all the people who are in and out of there and to protect Javier.
2. He cleaned the house super well. He went to Costco in Tijuana (before everything was gone there), and stocked up on bleach, detergent, wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
3. Javier will continue to do what he has always done until he is prevented from doing that any longer; that is, to go to El Chaparral every morning and help the people who are there.
The day after we had our big talk about closing the house to people, he sent me photos of a houseful of people. I wasn’t sure what to think about that! Jill had stopped by that day to drop off two boxes and said the house was PACKED! Later, when he and I talked, and before I could say anything, Javier said, “Sharon, it was raining and very cold this morning and there were these moms who were wet and cold. Some of the children were cold and crying. What else could I do?” And so that was how 5 moms and about 15 children came to be in La Casa. The moms relaxed, the children played, and he gave them all breakfast. When Jill came, she ended up taking two of the moms to a shelter she was delivering to, and Javier took the other three moms and kids to another shelter later in the day.
Well, that was then. He spent the next few days cleaning the house thoroughly and washing everything down. And now he is going to focus on helping people directly from El Chaparral and bringing things in the house to them if possible. Since there are no numbers being called, it makes sense anyhow, since people have largely given up thinking their number will be called any time soon. But new people continue to come, and so far they are still giving out new numbers.
A few days ago a young mom was there with her baby. Javier said the little baby was screaming. He said it turned out the baby’s diaper was soaked and the mom had no more diapers. He literally ran back to La Casa and grabbed a pack of diapers. When he brought them back to give to her, she started to take one. When she realized he was giving her the whole pack, she started to cry.
Today two couples from Russia were there. He helped them find a place to stay. Often he takes people to the clinic or somewhere they can get documents they need. He buys them food, helps them find a shelter, and pays for the transportation to get them there. There is no one else doing these things at present. I don’t know if he will be able to do less than that unless Tijuana shuts down. He’s careful to stay six feet away and to wash his hands often.
Actually, as of yesterday, Tijuana (perhaps the whole country, I’m not clear on that) is attempting to shut down and keep people in their homes as possible. Shelters have already been doing that for about a week. We’ll see how it goes.
Today I got a text from the young Cuban couple who were returned to Mexico with the MPP program. (Remember them? While they were in La Casa, they excitedly told us she was pregnant. When they crossed about a month ago, she told the border patrol, but they didn’t care. She went into the hielera and while there had to be rushed to the hospital in San Diego. She miscarried.) They texted me today because they were worried about me and wanted to know how I was. It made me cry. They are holed up in a little apartment they rented and said they feel grateful to have food and each other. They said they are reading, watching the news to keep themselves informed, going out as little as possible, and wondering about court dates, something no one seems to know anything about.
Javier will continue to help everyone he can in the best, safest way he can for the duration of this global nightmare. Also, several organizations are collecting money to send to specific shelters in Tijuana to buy food, since volunteers like Jill Zwiers can no longer drive across the border. Please think about supporting them.
Thank you all for being a part of this community. Thank you for your donations. They are much appreciated. If you wish to contribute over the next few months, please do not send boxes to La Casa c/o Jill, because she has no way to get them across the border. Financial support is appreciated.
MYSTERY DONORS! If you donated a $50 Target gift card a while back, I have tried but can get no information from which to thank you. And someone recently sent a box of clothes with a label with no address. They have already been given to families who needed them. Thank you both so much, and to anyone else who did not receive a thank you in some form from me. I worry about that.
There will be life after this, and La Casa will be open again as soon as it is safe. Clearly the need will be there. Currently there are more than 10,000 people in Tijuana waiting for their number to be called.
Please be safe, everyone. And pray for our friends at the border who are now facing an even more uncertain future.