Wednesday, June 14, 7 pm, Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita
Free of Charge
Gail Frank is a long time resident of the Oregon Coast. For over ten years, she wrote a monthly column for the North Coast Citizen on the joys of life in a small town. She often presents writing workshops in Manzanita for aspiring writers and was a director of stage plays for the Coaster Theatre Playhouse in Cannon Beach for many years.
When Gail began spending winters in Green Valley, Arizona, forty miles from the U.S./Mexico border, she became intrigued by the Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans, a group whose mission is to “save human lives in the Southern Arizona desert.”
When I attended my first Samaritan meeting, I expected to find seven people in a small room talking about how to help migrants. Instead I found 75 people, almost all of them over 60 years of age who were searching the desert to give water, food and first aid to people who were fleeing violence in their homeland, looking for a better life or trying to reunite with their families in the United States. Imagine, little old ladies in tennis shoes tromping around the desert in 100-degree heat calling out “hola, somos amigos,´¿necessita ayuda.”
Established in 2005 to be a complement to the Tucson Samaritans, the Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans engage in desert searches and water drops. They also help with the Kino Border Initiative aid station, El Comedor, which serves deported migrants two meals a day in Nogales, Sonora for a few weeks until they decide what to do next. Samaritans serve as witnesses at Operation Streamline court proceedings which take place every weekday afternoon in Tucson. The fast track court system was originally designed to serve as a deterrent with a goal of zero tolerance for illegal entry. Multiple studies show it is a program that does not achieve its goal and instead splits up families and costs taxpayers enormous amounts of money to keep migrants in mostly private prison systems.
Gail will share experiences of her work at El Comidor as well as her observations of Operation Streamline. In her efforts to put a “human face” on the complex issue of immigration, Gail will use photographs, her own writings and that of others, and found objects from migrant trails. She will provide resources on where to learn more and what one can do to help in this humanitarian effort. Books on Borderland Issues will be available for purchase.
Financial contributions for the Samaritans will be accepted and appreciated. Samaritans is run by volunteers and funded entirely by donations. Any money raised will be used to provide water, food, blankets, clothing and first aid for migrants as well as gasoline and maintenance for search and water vehicles. Gail’s belief is that “they” are not coming to save us; it is up to us. We are they, the ones we’ve been waiting for.