“Their needs were always in plain sight…”
By Chiara Catipon.
A young man who grew up binational in border country decides to take action.
“I’ve been going back and forth between Mexico and the U.S. since I was small,” Noé Herrera from Mexicali explains. With family and school in the U.S., he would cross the California border every day, together with others who did the same.
So, as he says, he basically grew up with a vision of these two countries as neighbors. He and his Mexican friends had good rapport with the students from the U.S. Each side learned the other’s languages, and they all did everything with a sense of binationality.
However, once he began his university studies, he realized that he was in a privileged position, one that few of his co-nationals had access to. Today this 22-year-old is involving his friends in Southern California in a series of activities to raise awareness regarding the plight of immigrants living in his city.
Because it was such a daily scene, Noé may have gotten used to seeing the increasingly growing number of people begging for any leftover change in the streets near the border crossing. He couldn’t ignore them, because he had to either walk or drive past them every morning.
“There were always, always immigrants coming from southern Mexico or Central America,” he says emphatically, “and their needs were always in plain sight”.
Where to start?
Seeing all this suffering, he asked himself what he could do. His first idea was to “make noise.” He wanted people to know that this condition is far from normal. Indifference in the face of this situation went so against the core of Noé’s belief in God’s call for humanity to treat each other as brothers and sisters. He recognizes that having grown up with the charism of unity, he felt called to do something to dismantle this supposed “clash between cultures” that never existed for him personally.
So he gathered his friends to do a “Run4Unity,” a relay race held every year in May in key cities throughout the world, aimed at promoting the Golden Rule: “Do to others what you would want others to do to you.” The last one they organized saw young people running along both sides of the wall, creating a visual statement of their desire for both sides to see their common humanity.
Still, he felt that he and his friends could do more. They began preparing sandwiches and going to the nearby parks where many immigrants lived. Some of them have been there for years. They were either deported from the U.S. and simply had no money to go back to their countries or cities. So they are just stranded there. Noé’s youth group would offer them food, drink, shoes, clothes, anything they could gather, and spend time talking to them.