ARIZONA REFLECTION: She is my sister

CPTnet
16 August 2005

ARIZONA REFLECTION: She is my sister

by Esther Kern

"Virginia Lizbeth Mejia Mejia."

"Presente."

"Human remains."

"Presente."

"Varon no identificado."

"Presente."

A chill grips my heart as each of the names--written on more than 145 simple
wooden crosses--is called out to passersby on the Pan American Highway in
Douglas, Arizona.

The line of people carrying the white crosses snakes along the curbside to
the Mexico border. Walking prayerfully are members of Christian Peacemaker
Teams, Frontera de Cristo, and Healing Our Borders.

Though light in weight, each cross carries a heavy burden--commemorating a
life that the blazing heat and rugged terrain of the Sonoran Desert have
consumed.

Out of desperation, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and
daughters--from Mexico and other parts of Latin America--risk their lives
every day to cross the Mexico border, into the United States of America.
Many make it. But since the year 2000, over 145 migrants in Arizona's
Cochise County alone did not make it to their destinations.

What must it feel like to lie in a wash on that vast, arid desert floor,
fearfully alone, without food and water, abandoned by your "coyote" (paid
guide) and others who are hardier and faster?

What must it feel like to know your life is slipping away, breath by labored
breath and with it, all of your hopes and dreams for a better life?

Sandra Guadalupe Aparicio Rojas knew that feeling. As I hold her cross up
high, I remember her, and salty tears trickle down my cheeks. Within the
human family, she is my sister.

"Presente."