The Sewing Project

Humanitarian Border Solutions is involved in an exciting project in Naco, Sonora. We’re helping start a women’s sewing cooperative that will assist unemployed women – mostly women with children – to begin working and earning a living. We’re doing this with the local Naco, Sonora, government and the state of Sonora government, both of which have donated industrial machines or given funds for the machines.
We’d thought the two-month sewing training program would begin in January, but it’s been moved up to October. To receive the training, the women must pay $350 pesos (about $32) and purchase all of their own supplies – scissors, tape measure, pins, needles, and more.
We believe it’s important for people to make an investment in their training, but because these women are so poor, they simply do not have the money to pay for the entire training program and all of the supplies. So we need your help.
For $35, you can sponsor a woman, like Edit, whose picture is above. This will pay for half of her training (about $16.50) and most of her supplies. The women will pay for the other half of their training and the rest of their supplies. We have twenty women who need to be sponsored so they can begin their training in October.
Please, if you can, send us a check today and in the memo line, put “sponsorship.” If we receive more than enough to help these women begin training, with your permission, we’ll use any surplus to pay for utilities in the workshop (which they’re responsible for in addition to their training and supplies). The more we can assist, the more likely it is they’ll successfully complete the training and begin to earn a living.
Please, if you can, send a check today to Humanitarian Border Solutions and note that it is for sponsorship. Make your check to Humanitarian Border Solutions and send it to us at PO Box 1433, Bisbee AZ 85603. Remember, we are a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, so your donation is tax-deductible.
Thank you so much!

A Visit with the Border Patrol

It’s all Alison’s fault.
She shot a video a week or so ago that showed some border patrol agents who had just captured a migrant. She noticed it because there was a helicopter in the air, numerous agents on the ground, horses, and a few vehicles, all on her property.
She questioned, and rightly so I believe, what the cost was to the taxpayer for capturing that one man. She also questioned, and again I believe rightly so, why the captured man had a bloody nose.
She captured all this video and put it on youtube. That’s when the fun began.
There was a flurry of comments, mostly negative, and some even questioning her patriotism or threatening her. Let me say she was a bit sarcastic a few times, but she didn’t degrade the border patrol, the agents, or their work. In one small part, she merely questioned, briefly, the cost. And the bloody nose.
Well, the next day an agent appeared at her door and invited her for a tour of the station. She accepted the invitation and I tagged along.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve been at the station here. I used to have a very good working relationship with the man in charge and a number of the agents. But it has grown so much since I was there last.
The station, built in the 80’s to accommodate about 25 agents, is now surrounded by portable buildings, and the whole mess of buildings accommodates about 350 agents, and stores about a zillion vehicles (including ATVs), a dozen or so horses, and a few working dogs. It also has a mini-prison where migrants are detained until deportation. It is way overcrowded and must be terribly inefficient and difficult to run an operation that is spread out over so many buildings.
The agent, male, a senior agent at the station, was accompanied by a younger female agent, and together they toured us around the site, even driving us out to the horse stalls. Alison and I rode in the back of an official Blazer that was separated from the front by grillwork, just in case we wanted to reach forward and strangle them or something, which we didn’t. Didn’t do. Didn’t want to do. They were really nice folks.
Then, they took us on a border tour, down the border road heading west toward the river. For me this was a bittersweet trip. It was comfortable even though we were locked in the back of a Blazer like prisoners. We weren’t at all treated that way, but still, the feeling was odd.
The drive was bittersweet because I used to drive the border road regularly, all the way to the river, where I’d walk around and occasionally have a picnic. It’s a beautiful drive through Arizona/Sonora grasslands. Cattle grazing, quail dashing about attempting to run five directions at once, blue skies and gently waving grass. The river in the distance.
I can no longer drive that road because the border patrol has put up a secondary wall, about thirty feet north of the border wall, and there is no access to the border road except along a private road, usable only by agents.
So it was good to ride that road again. We passed places I used to stop, and cruised past the area where for years we had the bi-national fiesta: tables of food on both sides of the border; a stage where US folks simply hopped the low wall into Mexico to take their turns singing, dancing, or whatever; and the volleyball net, strung atop the barrier wall so we could play boisterous rounds of the game. Those days are gone now, because the low barricade has been replaced by a twelve-foot steel wall. And, of course, we can’t use the road.
The agents drove us all the way to the river – which was dry, by the way – and we all got out for a few minutes. I almost cried. It is such a beautiful spot, and it’s a place I can’t get to any more because we’re not allowed access to the road. I hadn’t been there in years.
During the tour and on the drive, I got in my three big gripes with the border patrol. First, of course, is the new wall which denies me access to the border road. Second, I got to complain about the helicopter that flies w-a-y too low and sometimes seems about to hit the ground. And third, I got to tell them how many of us were upset that agents drive so fast down residential streets, often blasting down the roads at 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. We were able to talk about each of these issues, and I think they sort of understand about my missing the border road and fears that I’ll have that a helicopter fall into my living room one day. They absolutely agreed about the agents who speed.
In all, I think it was a good tour. We heard them, they heard us. There is still a gulf. But communication is good. At the end of the tour, the agent told us he was at our service. So, smartass that I am, I said I’d like to be driven weekly to the river, and that he should pack a picnic.
He laughed and said I’d have to do with pizza.

Programmed for Paper

I’m programmed for paper.
Both my parents were avid readers, and they raised my sister and me to be the same way.
Our house was always full of books and magazines. As a child, I’d always buy five or more books each summer, read them, and then swap them around the neighborhood, anxious to get my hands on more. More books. More paper.
Also, my dad was in advertising, and one benefit of the job was he’d receive every magazine his ads were in. We probably got twenty-five or thirty magazines each month. I never knew the magazines came because of his job. I thought everyone got them, that houses came with magazines.
So, I grew up reading. I was never one to fold a page down to keep my place, but I’d often lay a book or magazine down, spread open to the page I was on. Occasionally I’d even use a bookmark.
At age sixty-four, I bought an iPad, and when preparing for a trip, I downloaded Kindle and got a few free books. I never read them, choosing instead to pack several books for the trip.
Then, a month later , I had to get my hands on a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s Small Wonder quickly to read in time for my next book group. I looked on line and found a used copy that would cost me only about four dollars, shipped. But it would take about a week for me to get, maybe longer if the shipper was slow. So I took a deep breath and did it: I bought the Kindle version for around $11.
Never thought I’d do it, but I have to say it was interesting. I really liked that I could turn the machine off, but when I went back to read again, it would open to the page where I’d left off. Too many times, with a paper book, I neglect to put the book down properly, and set it instead on its back cover, and it promptly closes, losing my spot. Kindle never forgot what page I was on.
I also liked that I could read at night without a light on! Fabulous. The Kindle is back lit, easy to read in the dark. When I wanted to stop, I’d simply close the cover on my iPad.
But a Kindle is not paper. I like the feel of a book in my hands. I like the smell of paper. I like turning pages, and I like bookmarks. I even like laying the book down, spread wide, holding my place for me.
I usually have a book or in the car, for in case I’m early arriving somewhere, stuck in traffic, or if I see a sweet park or shady rest area and feel the need to read for awhile. Carrying my iPad is just as easy, except I can’t leave it in a hot car for the afternoon as I can an old paperback. I have to always carry it with me if I want a book on hand.
I like that I can leave a book out on the front porch and no one will steal it. Can’t imagine leaving my iPad out for a day or two. And if it rains? Paper is reasonably forgiving, and although the pages may be warped and wavy, I can still read my book. My iPad would drown for sure.
One of the things I like best about paperbacks is finding them used. I can roam the thrift shop or stop at a yard sale, and often as not I leave with a book or two. Or three. And if I enjoy reading the book, I always know someone to pass it on to.
It is such a joy to find a good mystery for a quarter, or even better, for a dime. And it is a joy to pass a book on. E-books will sit on my iPad forever, or at least until I delete them, but I’ll never find one at a yard sale, and I’m not about to loan out my iPad for a week so a friend can read the book. I’ll never find an e-book for a dime.
I like the look of a bookshelf covered with books. I love to go into the home of a friend who is a book lover. I gravitate to the bookshelf, gazing at titles, pulling off interesting books, negotiating a loan. How do you do that with e-books? They sit on a tablet. They don’t line a shelf, leaning to the side or propped up with a brick or a vase or a pile of books stacked on their backs.
Something is lost with an e-book. True, you can carry a dozen or so books in one small tablet. Or a hundred if you so choose. But to touch a book, to finger the cover, to flip it over and read the back cover nurtures my soul. In a moment I can keep the book or put it back, based on holding it in my hand and seeing if it speaks to me. To pick up a book that someone else has read, see the worn pages and read notes someone else has written in the margin feeds me in a way the pages of an e-book never could.
I fear the day there are fewer of those dime and quarter books in the thrift store, fewer because people are buying e-books. I’m sure book publishers fear that, too.
I also fear our children will not learn to love books and magazines and newspapers. One of my earliest memories is of “helping” my dad read the paper by pointing out the few words I knew. I was three, and I would pick up his newspaper, scanning for “the” or “and” or “to.” I’m sure that can be done on a tablet, but part of reading a paper is folding it, arranging it so the story I want to read is centered in front of me.
I enjoyed Small Wonder. I found I could highlight sections of the e-book – and some mysterious popup would sometimes happen telling me that three others had highlighted the same section. That connected me, in a way, to other readers. But it’s still not the same. I want that book on my shelf. I want to loan it out and have it come back. I want to touch the paper, smell that delicious book smell, and lay it down spread open to save the page I’m on.