Lights for Liberty

“The ones that matter the most are the children.” Lakota Proverb

Beautiful Baby, Beautiful Child (a lullaby)

Hokosucē herosē. Estuce herosē.

Beautiful baby, beautiful child.
Hokosucē herosē, Estuce herosē.

The sky is your blanket; the earth is your cradle.
Sutvt vccetv cēnakēt os. Ekvnv cen topv hakes.

Your mother rocks you close to her heart.
Ceckē ēfekkē temposen ce haneces.

Your father holds up the sky.
Cerkē sutv hvlwen kvwapes.

Beautiful baby, beautiful child.
Hokosucē herosē, Estuce herosē.

Harjo, Joy. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems (p. 28). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition. MVSKOVE TRANSLATION BY ROSEMARY MCCOMBS MAXEY

“Grown men can learn from very little children—for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show them many things that older people miss.” –Black Elk

“The Lakota call children wakanyeja. ‘Wakan’ means sacred. To us, children are not only blessings, but are meant to be the principal focus of each tiospaye (extended family group). They are sacred of their own accord.

We believe that before a baby is born, its soul specifically chooses its mother and father. It is understood that children are more than miniature versions of ourselves; they are spiritual beings in their own right, with their own voices, gifts, talents, and purposes.”

I am so grateful for the thousands of people who have gone, and will continue to go into the streets to demand the concentration camps be closed and children removed from cages. This can not stand.

Seeing Vice President Pence standing before these cages with no reaction, intentionally ignoring the men locked up before him is a sad but accurate representation of the intentional cruelty of this administration. We cannot wait until the election next year to change the administration. We must press for the impeachment of the president for these high crimes now.

I was so glad to see this video of my friends Rezadad Mohammadi and Christine Ashley from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) on their way to the Lights for Liberty protest in front of the White House last night.

My friend Judy Plank, who has been involved with migrant issues for many years and lived near the border in Arizona, sent the following information about ways to help.

My friend Janice Pulliam, A Quaker friend from Arizona, sent this to me a few days ago, regarding the migrant situation on the AZ border, with groups and places she is involved with where our supplies and funds are needed. It’s good to know where to donate that will go directly to those in need. The terrible treatment of migrant families and their children is horrible. I am very distraught with our government’s inhumane actions.

As many of you know, I am on the board of Voices from the Border, a 501c3 organization founded in January 2017 to work for human and civil rights and environmental justice in the border regions of Arizona, US and Sonora, Mex. Last summer began a huge influx of legal asylum seekers at the border town of Nogales–AZ and Son. We began taking food, water, clothing and supplies (diapers, toiletries, shoes & socks, toys etc.) to the people waiting at the gate in Mexico to enter and claim asylum. We have continued to do that as the numbers of refugees has increased. We have also worked with a nurse, Pancho Olachea Martin, who works with these migrants and with the extremely poor citizens of Nogales, Sonora. We support him with money for his ambulance and medical supplies. He guides us as to what items are most needed and helps us distribute them. We have met many asylum seekers at the border and when feasible we have helped them get settled in their sponsoring families and communities throughout the USA. We have helped them get legal assistance–although we do not pay lawyers fees, we link refugees with those who can, if we can. Anyway, the work continues, as you know from news headlines these days. You may want to connect with Voices from the Border on FaceBook, if you use it, to see what we are doing.

Once someone is admitted through Nogales, they may be sent to the shelter Casa Alitas in Tucson, AZ where refugees are housed and fed until they can be sent to their sponsors elsewhere, where they will wait for their hearing dates. Casa Alitas is run totally by volunteers and is situated in an old convent/monastery building. An email letter from them is forwarded below, an update on their current situation.

If you scroll to the bottom of this email, you can find several ways to donate to Casa Alitas. They really do need funds. I am planning to volunteer there myself once I digest all the info about how to volunteer there and take the training. After seeing and reading about what has been happening in Texas, I felt like going there with truckloads of toiletries and saying to ICE, “Hey, you say you don’t have funds to give kids toothbrushes and soap. Well I do and here they are!” But of course that is ridiculously impractical and impossible for too many reasons. Yet I know many of you have been feeling that same way. What can I do to help? Donations of money are extremely helpful for both Casa Alitas and Voices from the Border. You may also want to donate to ACLU, Amnesty, No More Deaths, Derechos Humanos, or RAICES—you can find their websites and donate online. They are all working to alleviate the suffering of and injustices done to asylum seekers and other migrants.

However, sometimes we want to do something concrete, palpable to help asylum seekers. Perhaps the following will appeal to you or your group. I’m sending this email to several friends, so ignore if the following does not apply to you:
There is a list at the bottom of this email of practical items that Casa Alitas shelter needs. Most of these are also needs of the asylum seekers waiting at the border whom Voices from the Border helps. One idea I had is for friends of mine from around the country who want to do something but feel helpless because you’re so far away—get together a group of friends or people from your religious group who are interested in helping, take a trip together to Walmart or another place you prefer to shop, buy up a bunch of the needed items (toothbrushes, travel sizes of tooth paste and soap, lip balm, flip flops, underwear, etc. whatever you want to focus on), and send all your purchases in one package together (like “if it fits it ships” at the US Post Office) to save postage. Share the costs. After your trip to the P.O., go have a lemonade together and know that the recipients will be extremely grateful! Maybe you have a school class or Sunday school class that might want to do this project together.

You may mail items and checks (IRS tax deductible) to Voices at:
Voices from the Border
c/o Linda Hirsch
PO Box 7
Patagonia, AZ 85624

Keep the Faith! Love is stronger than death. Janice Pulliam / JLC Pulliam

Every week since my last update I have meant to write another, but each week the big picture of what we do and with whom changes. In the past month the shelter went from 200+ guests to 500, then back down, with a few with what we now call “slow days” of 50-60 new guests. Then just as suddenly occupancy surged by over 150 guests per day. In addition to those guests that ICE drops off at the Monastery, Border Patrol now has added to our numbers, dropping of families earlier and later than usual, and with less documentation and detail. These cycles of rapid expansion followed by sudden drops in the numbers of families seemed daunting at first, but as one kitchen volunteer exclaimed on a particularly busy day, “Let them come! We can handle anything.”

Well, almost. Our eighty-year old building groans under the weight of so many guests. Water that rises on the second floor cascades through the ceiling of the first. Electric malfunctions led to the shutting down of critical equipment. We had to empty the shelter for twenty-four hours to do some electrical and plumbing repairs. Perhaps the old building heaved a sigh of relief to get a respite from the wear and tear on old pipes and electrical circuits, just as we appreciated the brief break.

Our work together, yours with us, has taken on graver tones as the political rhetoric over an emergency at the border continues to simmer. Yes, there is a crisis at the border, a human-rights crisis, a moral crisis, a hemorrhage of human potential from the south to the north, the suffering of families. This week as our late night drivers accompanied guests to the bus station, they found sixteen stranded parents with children who had been put on the bus in Phoenix, and who, upon arriving at the Tucson station to change buses, found that their next bus had been canceled. Without food, water, or any money, they were told they had to wait for the next opportunity to leave – the next day or the next. Our dedicated drivers gathered them up and brought them to the Monastery shelter where they bathed, slept, and arranged for drivers for their next leg of the journey. Another family of five from El Salvador arrived yesterday with a baby born in detention. Their sponsor could not manage a family of five or pay for their tickets. They were stranded and alone, until a volunteer began networking with her home church to sponsor the family.

As I write, two of our children and one adult had to be hospitalized after the latest surge and resulting Mexican crackdowns on safer routes through Mexico meant that families were forced to once again make the perilous trip on the top or sides of trains and other dangerous routes. We were able to get immediate medical attention for these three and someone is always with them in the hospital.

Some of our stories have happy endings while others do not. Director, Teresa Cavandish tells of the first time she saw the father who lost a leg below the knee and arm below the elbow when he became dizzy and fell from the top of a train, being wheeled into the monastery with his incredibly traumatized son. She described their meeting, “They were exhausted and broken, and the dad now has a post amputation infection and is back in the hospital.” “I will never ever be the same after seeing this,” she said.

Horrified at human cruelty and the suffering it causes, we are also encouraged and inspired by our comings together. We will never ever be the same. Truly, it is something of a miracle that people do make it through to their sponsors. Our super power in the midst of chaos is our volunteers, who step in at all times of the day and night to figure out the next right step in complicated situations. Physicians, ministers, scientists, teachers, call center operators, home-makers, artists, students, interpreters, computer experts, cooks, drivers . . . people from all walks of life come together because, as we tell our new guests, “We believe that a better world is possible.”

As I arrived one morning one very young dad was sitting in the courtyard, sobbing into his hands. I sat down next to him as asked what was wrong. His crying intensified as he shook his head “no.” I went to the kitchen and got a cookie and took it back to him. Sitting beside him, breaking the cookie, I said the words of my faith tradition, “This is my body . . .” He began to talk, punctuated by more tears. His sponsor couldn’t afford the bus tickets for he and his son. He said they would die if they were returned to Guatemala. I told him that there are so many of you who care what happens to him. I learned there is a donor who will pay for people who can’t afford their tickets. As he held so tightly on to me he wept and said, “I never imagined that there would be such good and kind people . . .” Miracle or simply connecting those who can help with those who need it? That is what we do best.

Our guests’ suffering is not over once they reach us. This is the sharp edge to what we do. We cannot fix the situations that our guests face, but we will move heaven and earth to accompany them faithfully, generously, kindly, and with dignity. We can love them up and send them off to you, where you will do your best to help them take their next right step.

Thank you for your generous support, for your prayers, monetary and in-kind donations, and for sharing the good news our shelter is for our volunteers, guests, and larger community. Please feel free to share this letter with others who might be interested in learning more about our important work, and/or who would also like to offer financial support. Your support makes our work possible. Together, we provide help, create hope, and serve all. Your gift strengthens children, families, adults, and communities. Donations can be made directly to CCS at or through our GoFundMe page

Peace on your way,

Rev. Delle McCormick
Monastery Shelter Volunteer

Donation requests:
(Please keep in mind that we go through large volumes of 100+ of each of these items daily.)

• Men’s underwear, ALL SIZES (high priority)
• Boy’s underwear, ALL SIZES (high priority)
• Girls’ and women’s underwear, ALL SIZES
• Shoes, especially smaller sizes for men and women
• Belts
• Boys’ and men’s pants and shorts (especially S/M for the men’s)
• Men’s shirts (S/M – boys’ size 14+ work perfectly too)
• Men’s small long sleeve shirts/fleece types
• Women’s dresses
• Leggings for girls and women
• Girls shirts and pants all sizes
• Girls underwear, all sizes
• Shoelaces

• Travel size body lotion
• Chapstick
• Nail clippers
• Large bottles of shampoo (3-in-1: shampoo/conditioner/body gel)
• Combs/hair brushes

55 gallon trash bags

Other ways to donate:
• Online through the Catholic Community Services website here and indicate that you would like to direct your gift to Casa Alitas:
• Mail a check to CCS Development Dept., 140 W. Speedway, Ste. 230, Tucson, AZ 85705 . Make out the check to Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona and indicate “for Casa Alitas” in the memo line.
• Donate to our GoFundMe page here:
• You can purchase an item off of our Amazon Gift List. This will be sent directly to Casa Alitas:

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