Thank you Loyola University for your incredible hospitality. And thank you to the Opus Prize Foundation for your generosity. I want to share with you tonight an image from last week at our aid center. I came into the main area of the center. The area that you saw where the last supper mural is located in the video. I saw a little four year old girl who was coloring a Mickey Mouse in a coloring book.
As I approached her and sat down and spoke with her parents, I learned that she is a big Mickey Mouse fan. She absolutely loves Mickey Mouse. I also learned that her parents are from Honduras. Her dad had worked in a factory that closed during the pandemic and lost his job. In order to give a better life to their child, they decided to get to the United States, where they thought that they could get better jobs. Maybe she could get a better education.
They were packed in the back of a truck trailer throughout the journey through Mexico. And then on improvised rafts across the Rio Grande on their way to Texas. On the whole way, their little girl was clinging on to a stuffed Mickey Mouse. That for her was a reminder of home. It was a source of comfort. It was a small piece of stability in the midst of an extraordinarily destabilizing migration journey. So she clung to that little Mickey Mouse until the family was detained by Border Patrol. And per Border Patrol policy, the agent ripped Mickey Mouse from her hands, and threw him in the trash.
The family was then detained for several days. They were put on an airplane from Texas to Arizona. A bus from Tucson, AZ to Nogales, AZ. And then they were forced to walk across the border to Nogales, MX. A city that they have never been to. A city where they had no legal status. And a city where they had no idea where to look for help, except for at our aid center. So they walk into our aid center, and the volunteer offers this little girl a coloring book. A Mickey Mouse coloring book.
I share this story because it is so emblematic of the work that we do. What I witnessed in that moment last week was a moment of restoration. A moment in which that girl was accessing that sense of home and that sense of comfort. A source of consolation. But perhaps more importantly, as she colored in Mickey Mouse, she was imagining a different future. And that is the kind of work that we try to do at the Kino Border Initiative through offering food, shelter, medical attention, clothing and a variety of different services. We are trying to provide a small corner of home. A small sense of comfort.
And through our education and advocacy programming, we are trying to weave with this little girl; who is grasping at the threads of hope. We are trying to weave them together. Because we believe it is possible to have a humane and workable immigration policy. But this work of hope is not the work of a single four year old girl. It is not the work of a single person. And it is not the work of a single organization.
I hope no one out there is sitting around thinking, “Gosh, what good work that they do there at Kino.” Because as it was already mentioned, that is not the point of the night. The point of the night is, “What is the good work that we are called to do together?” And we see so many flashes of that. We see that in the generosity of the Opus Prize Foundation. We see that in the research and teaching we see at Loyola University. You see that in the extraordinary commitment of our staff here with me (and I think joining us live on the livestream). We see it in the extraordinary example of our migrant leaders. Some of whom are with us tonight as well.
Because work at the border is not the work of sheer determination. We don’t just grit our teeth and make it happen. Hope is a grace that we receive from God. God touches our minds and our hearts, and that little girl’s imagination. And then in community, we can then construct hope. We cultivate it. So thank you Loyola University. Thank you the Opus Prize Foundation for being a part of this community of hope. Might we all color along with this little girl. And might we imagine hope and act our way into a better world.