The Center of Multicultural Services hosted a humanitarian campaign to collect non-perishable foods and hygiene supplies from students and faculty, that was then collected by Yadira Ortiz, co-founder of the Border Angels San Bernardino Chapter, Wednesday in the Executive Dining Room.
Ortiz, who will deliver the donations to those in need, shared her first-hand experiences at the border with roughly 45 students and faculty.
The Border Angels is a volunteer based and non-profit organization, whose mission is to hike the trails where many immigrants travel on their way to Tijuana, Mexico, and leave gallons of water, clothes and snacks for these immigrants on their trails.
“How bad do things in your home country have to be for a mother to put their own children through this? It’s not a choice,” Ortiz said.
“It all started when the big wave of unsupervised minors came in 2012 and 2013,” Ortiz said. “That is what triggered me into getting involved to try to help.”
The Border Angels do more than just drop water and food for people along the trails. They drop feminine hygiene products and other items for mortifying reasons.
“We take pads and condoms on the drops as well,” Ortiz said. “We take condoms because a lot of the women tell us it’s not a matter of if rape happens, it’s a matter of when. This is the reality of many immigrants on the trails today.”
There is minimal support for the Border Angels from higher officials. In fact, Ortiz said the government takes strides in scaring them away from helping the immigrants, but they stand resilient.
“Our Border Angels get detained and questioned at the border for hours,” Ortiz said. “There’s gallons being slashed, but there are many more gallons being found.”
Mia Skelton, junior legal studies major, said the talk by Ortiz inspired her to get involved.
“I wanted to know what was happening at the border,” Skelton said. “Now I know there is something I can do to make a difference. I want to look into volunteering and donating locally.”
Misty Levingston, associate director of multicultural affairs, who helped plan the campaign, is also looking to organize a caravan throughout the University in which students, faculty and community members can get involved.
“We just started thinking about this project, and want to aim for some time around Thanksgiving this year for a water drop to take place,” Levingston said.
“I think a lot of us see things on TV, but this felt real and personal,” said Julissa Espinoza, director of civic and community engagement. “We have the tools and resources to help and Yadira gave us hope on how we can take action and help in this effort.”
Ortiz emphasized her motivation even when times are tough.
“This is hard work but it will never be as difficult as those that are traveling,” Ortiz said. “It will never be as difficult as those that live in the shelters. It will never be as difficult as the children in the cages.”
Jacob Barriga can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.