Thursday, March 21, 2019

McAllen March 2019 #4

1200 Monday....and Tuesday....and yesterday I don't know. It was chaos.

We have so many asylum seekers being dropped off that we have had to find other places for them to sleep. When they first arrive, we help them contact family and arrange tickets.

So in the morning those with tickets for that day stay with us...and will be taken to the bus station at several times during the day. Those leaving the day after or two days after will be taken to other shelters to wait, and taken to the bus station from the other shelters.

Those with plane tickets, which is happening more, normally are taking taxis ($20, can be paid by families at the other end) but yesterday we had several smaller groups so we ferried them over ourselves. I took one group in our mini bus, which is a vehicle a LITTLE larger than I am accustomed to. Fortunately I virtually never hit moving objects. Sometimes, though, stationary objects pose a challenge. Also I really truly have no sense of direction but was proud of myself for getting there and back without getting lost. Ok, it's just ONE turn  but even then I am capable of making the wrong choice.

Anyway yesterday--and the days before and after, no doubt--was pure mayhem. We had one jefe (boss) calling people to the front reception area to be transferred to other shelters. We had another jefe calling people to the front to get on the bus for the bus terminal. The bosses were not communicating. My very competent assistant and I were trying to figure out who was who--transfers to other shelters just go; transfers to the bus station get food bags and blankets. And at the same time, all those who had registered and not yet heard if they have tickets were crowding the reception to ask if the tickets had come through yet.

And there are always bystanders, especially teens and sometimes younger kids. Just checking things out, watching, and so on. Well, also those coming to reception for headache medicine, meds for their kids who have fevers. Everyone has coughing issues, many with colds, and those who are leaving? They ask for dramamine so they don't get sick on the bus.

When I left around 5 yesterday (having been there since 7:15 a.m. without a break), all the busses had finally come through and everyone had been sorted into groups for registration. There were volunteers in the kitchen and we've been forced to cancel clean clothes and showers due to the huge numbers of people. We had run out of spoons for the soup--someone had to run out and get more. We had to make more than one grocery trip to make sandwiches for the bags of food we give them when they leave for the busses to join family. And we had run out of the blankets/throws we give them for the journey as well.

There will be people working until 9 or 10 at night with registration....people feeding our asylum seekers....people cleaning up....and likely, someone going to our off site storage to get more blankets, more snack foods, more  toiletries, more kitchen supplies....

truly it is a valiant effort:  a small staff plus a varying number of volunteers operating on a shoe string budget, begging for donations, making the best of what we have to give. Just wish we had the resources to do more.....

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