Notes from Tapachula: Uniting (and Re-shaping) Borders

By Rodrigo Barraza García | August 20, 2018 | The Americas | Freedom from Violence & Exploitation, Gender Equity, Youth Empowerment

Editor’s note: this post is also available in Spanish.

Diego did not know the sea. The father, Santiago Kovadloff, took him to discover it.
They traveled to the south.
She, the sea, was beyond the high dunes, waiting.
When the boy and his father finally reached those peaks of sand, after much walking, the sea exploded before their eyes. And the immensity of the sea was so great, and so much its brightness, that the child was silent of beauty.
And when he finally managed to speak, trembling, stuttering, he asked his father:
– Help me to look!

 —Eduardo Galeano

Three days. 29 organizations. 62 participants. Six countries. More than ten cities. People traveling by bus, plane, taxi, truck, van. Sum of energies that converge in one place. A dream that brings us together.

It is the first meeting of our transnational network for the Comprehensive Protection of Migrant Girls and Adolescents. The objectives were clear: to get to know each other, to learn from others, to dialogue, to join forces, to build collectively.

To claim our right to dream together. Help us look.

People and organizations from Central America, Mexico and the United States looked each other in the eye, hugged and said: you are not alone. I know that work is hard, but we can take care of each other. It is necessary. And it is worth it.

The first day we learned that although we come from different places, many of our desires are common. That the lives of migrant girls should be protected—all the way from their communities of origin to their new and multiple homes. That in the face of violence we must respond with an articulated, strategic, and transnational work.

The second day we learned more about the southern border of Mexico. And we realized that borders are nothing more than an invention. That crossing a river because you have a dream or because you want to protect your family does not make you a criminal. And that people will always keep walking to achieve their dreams. Or to simple survive.

Also on the second day we felt inspired by the work of organizations such as Iniciativas para el Desarrollo Humano and the Fray Matías de Cordova Human Rights Center, which, from the very heart of the cross-border communities, work side-by-side with the girls and young migrants. Generating alternative and inclusive educational models. Promoting the organization of the girls and the advancement of their rights. Fighting the stigma towards the foreign population. Recovering and reconstructing the migrant memory and the cultural elements that strengthen our sense of community.

The third day, after knowing the great challenges that we face in front of us, we dedicate ourselves to dreaming. To dream responsibly  To exercise our right to hope.

We ask ourselves, what can we do to improve legal assistance? To provide effective psychosocial support? To promote the organization and protagonism of migrant girls and young women? To build communication and collaboration channels that cross borders? And now we have some answers.

And so we returned to our jobs happy, motivated and full of hope. Knowing that we build possible dreams. That now we have friends from both sides of the border. That everything is always easier when it is shared. When it is collective.

This is only the first step. We know. But it was an essential step, the step we needed to know that another world is possible. And that we are creating that world. A world in which to migrate is a free act that multiplies our belongings, that fills our hearts. A world in which migration means humanity.

And there we go. Together. Reshaping the borders and helping us to look. Now we know that we are not alone. That we can help each other to look.


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