By Olivia Meneses Coordinator of the Mobilize Volunteers Project
This is the second time we have completed Family Reunification in Chihuahua. This time I coordinated it remotely from Mexico City, but I would still like to share some of the stories of families and the teenagers. This time there were four mothers that we helped by providing transportation so that they could go to visiting day at the CERSAI (Specialized Juvenile Center for Social Reintegration). Three of the mothers traveled from the same town three and a half hours away by bus. They each hadn’t seen their children for about three months. The other mother traveled from the country outside of a town eight hours away by bus and she hadn’t seen her son for two years.
It sounds so simple to say that we bought bus tickets for four mothers to be able to visit their children, but it was not so simple in all the cases. This time I faced some new challenges from the last time we ran this project. The mother from the town eight hours away hadn’t seen her son for a very long time, during which she hadn’t had the resources nor the opportunity to travel. Despite being very excited by the possibility of seeing her son, because of the distance and the strict visiting hours at the detention center, she had to get on a bus at night and travel all night to a city she had rarely visited. The bus left at midnight from the bus station but once she was at the station, she began to think about traveling alone at night to a place she didn’t know. All those thoughts began to cause stress and anxiety until she started to change her mind about going. She was paralyzed. While you might think that is incredible, she reached the point of deciding to return to her home in the country. And it was just a few minutes until the bus was set to depart.
So, I got on the phone with her. And in the end, she was reassured and convinced both by her husband who was there at the bus station and by the words I spoke to her on the phone to calm her. But the thing that really convinced her was the love of a mother and knowing that her son was anxiously waiting to see her. So, she got on the bus.
Fortunately, after meeting her son I received a call from her to tell me that everything turned out well. She spent visiting day with her son and she was very grateful to be able to have the opportunity. This despite the fact she had to wait a few more hours at the bus terminal in the city to take another night bus to return home. But this time, she sounded different, calm and happy. It had been worth it. Even though we were not there when she met her son, just being able to hear in her voice the gratefulness, re-energizes me to continue this work on the Family Reunification Project.