Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alternatives

Is it possible to find alternatives to such a complex issue as migration?  As the immigration debate continues in North America and thousands of Latin American migrants continue to find their way there, the need for local, healthy, and sustainable alternatives becomes increasingly important.  When visiting projects in San Marcos where small community cooperatives are producing trout and growing flowers, one starts to get a glimpse as to what these alternatives could look like.  There is work to be done and hope in doing it, story after story shared about how things have changed in the communities and how husbands and fathers are no longer forced to leave their homes in order to provide for their families.  It's encouraging and inspiring, and makes us feel like we are doing good work here.  Yet, at the same time there are feelings of frustration, even anger, at the inequality and exploitation that we see.  The conflict between privilege and poverty and the overwhelming complexity of all these issues leaves us feeling inadequate and ultimately, responsible.   This, in short, is what the Alternatives to Migration Learning Tour participants were struggling with in their final debriefing held last month - an overwhelming mix of complicated emotions, thoughts, and unanswered questions that are a common part of these experiences - and the part that I believe, marks us to the point that we cannot forget, leaving us responsible to act.  That action of course will take many different paths, and it itself will most likely lead us to more questions:  "How can we know that a "real difference" is being made?  How does change actually occur?"  Realistically, we may never have the answers to all of these questions, but the importance of asking them and working to find solutions cannot be overlooked.  In the end, one might just find that the solution lies in a few fish ponds and rose gardens in the rugged mountains of San Marcos.

In addition to visiting the projects in San Marcos, the Learning Tour spent time across the border in Tapachula, Mexico hearing about the reality of immigration on the border; visit the Latin America Advocacy blog (now in Spanish!) to learn more about the organizations we visited.  Also follow Amanda VanEngen's adventures here during her one year SALT term in San Marcos. 
 

In order to get to Mexico, some of the group had the adventure of a lifetime while hiking to Yalu in a rain storm; luckily the increasingly famous and every-caring Juan Pablo was our fearless leader!
Although there was severe damage from the November 7 earthquake in  the center of San Marcos, the communities where MCC directly supports projects were not affected.  MCC is currently working with our local partner Caritas to assess the damage and will be providing humaintarian and other aid in the coming weeks.  


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