The road to El Paso is long and difficult for the refugees. They have traveled many days just to get this far and their journey is not yet complete. I spoke with one woman from Honduras who said it took her over 20 days of traveling to reach El Paso. She said sometimes she and her family would be able to find a ride but much of the time was spent walking. When I travel, I have enough food, clean water, and a comfortable place to rest. The refugees do not have these luxuries and traveling takes quite a toll on them – especially the children.
As a result, quite a bit of over the counter medication is dispensed for things such as upset stomachs, fevers, headaches and colds. Many times, however, over the counter remedies are just not enough. Each day, a doctor comes to our site to evaluate those travelers who need more than an over the counter remedy can provide. We see a lot of strep throat, fevers and sinus infections. Children especially experience a lot of diarrhea and vomiting. The doctor writes prescriptions and our drivers have them filled at a local pharmacy. The doctor at our site has been a practicing Pediatrician for 39 years. This is his way to give back and help those in need.
The refugees are not the only ones who are sick. Because of the exposure to so many different illnesses, almost all volunteers at some point in their stay get sick. Deb, Patrice and I have been taking extra vitamins but we have all been sick this week – mostly sore throats and headaches. Some of the Sisters who are working with us have made trips to the local walk-in clinics for prescriptions and then spent the day resting before returning to the site. Illness is something we all share because of the close proximity in which we are working with our guests.
My prayer today is that all of us, refugees and volunteers, experience God’s healing touch. This week I was sick but maybe that has helped me to better understand and relate to those who I am serving. Sickness is something we are all sharing but in some ways binds us together and makes me realize how vulnerable we all can be. Join me again as on The Road to El Paso.