Today my co-workers and I served lunch at the El Paso Rescue Mission. In lieu of exchanging gifts for the holidays we decided it would be nice to give some of our time to the community. I was blown away by the experience and the people I met. I am very happy that the borderland has this mission as a resource. The mission has around 80 people on their roster currently that they provide services for. I was especially happy to learn about their rehabilitation program which provides housing and career opportunities to those overcoming addictions. It was awesome to see such things but after we left I was touched by something completely different, and extremely unexpected.
The mission is located smack dab on the US/Mexico border, just steps away from The Border Highway. You could spit and it would land in Juarez. I became overwhelmed with the idea of what it would be like to grow up on the other side of that line in the sand, where the only things that separate you from opportunity are some green and white SUVs, a piece of paper and a whole lot of politics.
I imagined what it would be like to grow up in Anapra, with the Asarco Towers and a poorly constructed fence being the only things blocking the view of The University of Texas, and this Rescue Mission that welcomes the poor, the hungry and the homeless. I imagined what it would be like to dream of having an education and all the opportunities that the US provides, and it all being so close you can almost taste it. I imagined what it would be like to be a little kid, living in a cardboard house, looking to the US with a fire in my eyes... pining after a better life.
That is REALLY what blew me away today. The borderland really is a land of it's own, with so many rare triumphs and tribulations that the rest of America never really thinks about. It's a weird position I am in. One foot in the US, one foot in Mexico. It's a lot to take in and evaluate. Every day I seem to learn something new and I really hope that's a trend that continues.
After today I became even more thankful for the card I have been dealt in this lifetime. I hope that one day, some of those kids I saw today, staring longingly over that fence, will get their chance at the life they have always dreamed of; the life that I was lucky enough to be born into. I also hope that one day, I can pay it forward.