Columban Mission Exposure Visit to El Paso and Mexico, exploring issues around migration.

21st March 2016 - by Nathalie Marytsch

El Paso - British group
El Paso - British group
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A small group of Columban contacts in Britain spent Holy Week 2016 on a Columban ‘Mission Exposure Visit’ to the USA and Mexico, exploring issues around migration.
This first blog is from Eleanor Turner, a Geography teacher who lives in Preston.

Palms, pecans and prisons (Blog 1)

After a long (26 hours for some!) journey we landed safely in El Paso where we were warmly welcomed by Columban Father Bob Mosher, at 11pm Saturday night. We started Sunday morning celebrating Palm Sunday mass at St. Ignatius church, with the Spanish speaking congregation, which was a great experience. We particularly enjoyed the music with about 5 guitars and maracas!

Following church, we all took a great deal from a talk given by Taylor Levy, who spoke to us about immigration laws in the USA, particularly on the experiences of family detention centres for women and children. Our reactions on this ranged from indignation to the indignity of (up until a few years ago) all women and children, including babies and toddlers, having to wear orange jumpsuits in these detention centres, which are, to all intents and purposes, prisons, to deep sadness that detention comes before application processes. It was truly eye opening to hear about the differences between the UK and USA system.

After a brief stop at a petting zoo to say hello to llamas, donkeys and some haughty camels, we took a fascinating car tour around the pecan tree plantations, where a lot of immigrant workers get a steady income. A major question around these plantations are the sustainability of them, as they rely on huge amounts of water, which El Paso, as a desert, does not have. This really brought to us big questions about local employment opportunities and environmental sustainability.

We finished off the day with a stunning drive through the craggy mountains above El Paso to a delicious Vietnamese restaurant where we ate with Fathers Bob, Bill and Danny, of the Columban Missionaries.

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