written by Randy Meyer
Last June the Good Shepherd and the Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans agreed to accompany a Honduran family that was getting ready to present themselves to immigration officials at the US/Mexico Border. Some of our folks had gotten to know Eva and her four children at the Jesuit-run Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Mexico where we volunteer every Tuesday. At the time, we knew it would be a long, hard journey---but I don’t think any of us knew all the hoops, heart-wrenching experiences, and joy that would transpire over the year.
It takes a village to accompany an Asylum Family of five. There are medical and psychological issues that need to be taken care of for all of the family members. There are housing and furniture issues that need to be provided. Everyone needed to be enrolled in school---which then required tutoring and English classes. Transportation needed to be provided since Eva couldn’t get her driver license. Food---four growing kids eat a lot of food. Legal issues needed to be worked on so that Eva would make all of her court hearings and so that a strong case could be developed. And of course emotional, spiritual support.
So many folks stepped forward to help out, not because they were asked, but because their hearts were open and there was lots of work to be done. Thank you to any and all that helped out or just gave a few dollars or said a prayer. Every little bit of help was important.
So after a year---it is so satisfying to step back and see Eva and her family relieved that they no longer have to live with fear. They have successfully proven their case---which is hard to do anywhere in the United States---but especially in Arizona where only 1 in every 100 asylum cases is granted. But it is also satisfying to step back and see a community that took a risk to walk with a family in need. You all put your faith on the line, you all gave from the depths of your hearts, expecting nothing in return and it has made a difference---a huge difference in this family’s life. But somehow I think it has made a difference in each of our lives as well. I know that the actions of this congregation and the Samaritans literally saved five lives, but in the process other lives were also saved, or at least sparked back to life.
I have coined a new word,“Collateral Compassion.” Collateral compassion happens when care and concern is focused on a particular situation but in the process, that compassion and care is multiplied and inflicted on many unintended targets. I have to admit that I have been one of the unintended targets in this asylum process; I have experienced collateral compassion--- maybe you have too? I am glad the Good Shepherd has experienced Collateral Compassion, may we experience it again and again and again….