By Sister Dani Brought, ASC
I recently completed my last shift at Casa del Refugiado Center, and after three weeks of intense work and service in that 500-bed migrant shelter in El Paso, Texas, was able to enjoy some quiet respite time.
As I reflect on the experience of these past weeks, my mind and heart (and body, too) continue to be stretched, challenged, and filled with diverse activities, connections with newly arrived volunteers, and presence among those who have suffered much. Yet, those who have suffered express great hope in new beginnings for a safer, better life for themselves and their children.
Most of the refugees who have arrived recently at the Center have been single parents, both men, and women, with a young child.
The many young children brought lots of energy and noise, giggles and ball bouncing and running. Many of them had coughs and sore throats, and pain and fever. All of that was to be expected, considering the journey they had been through over the past months.
In the midst of this, I discovered that my dusty, long unused basic nursing skills could be called up and put to great service. Mostly it was a matter of doing a simple assessment and dispensing basic over-the-counter medicine to relieve the symptoms for the few days they were with us at the Casa. This simple act by “nurse Sr. Dani” provided much reassurance both for the parents and for the rest of the group of volunteers.
As 10 p.m. of my last shift came near, I carried out my last nightly chore of shutting off the water to the mobile showers, turning out the lights in the huge dormitory, and checking that all was well in the outdoor area. As my shift finished and my time at Casa del Refugiado came to an end, I stood in the area out back under the bright moon in the expansive sky and was filled with gratitude, tiredness, wonder, and peace for our congregation’s presence here.
I am sure that the blessings of this experience will continue to unfold in the weeks to come. But for now, I look up at the light and ask that each of us continue to be guided in God’s ways.