Excitement crackled through the main room, which had been prepared for the occasion. All around the communal tables sat people ready to give thanks. “I’m grateful because I will cross tomorrow,” said one person who had been waiting months for an appointment. “I’m grateful because I’m waiting [here], and I’m safe,” said another. “I’m grateful for this meal…and that I do not have to wash dishes,” a third added with an impish grin. Thanks to you, we were able to share our Thanksgiving traditions with 150 displaced people staying at two shelters we support in Juarez, near the US Mexico border.
Food is a language of connection. Sharing a meal gathers people around a table, reaffirming that we are alive and present in that moment. Eating together, we journey through past memories as we create new ones, stamped indelibly by experiencing a particular meal. The meal you brought included delicious chicken breast stuffed with cheese and ham, mashed potatoes with parmesan cheese, seasoned salad, and pasta. We bought the meals and accompanying cans of soda from a local restaurant to support neighborhood businesses near the shelters with which we partner.
Sharing a meal builds empathy because food makes us curious about other cultures and deepens our understanding of communities different from our own. While we were having Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter, one of our guests explained that people do not eat turkey during the holidays in Venezuela. Instead, they eat a delicious lechon or pig. While he was explaining how to cook a pig and what kind of spices to use, another guest shared his family’s special recipe. Smiles were seen all around the tables as people once more thanked the hands that had prepared the meal and the donors who made the Thanksgiving meal possible.
“Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings you gave us this year. Thank you for the help you sent for our friends staying at this shelter, and thank you for supporting the work our friends from Preemptive Love do!” said the pastor running one of the shelters.
As Juarez continues receiving thousands of migrants, city shelters are at full capacity and struggle to meet the basic needs of displaced people waiting for their turn to cross. More than 10,000 migrants are waiting in Juarez, making the city the most populated center along the US Mexico border. As Mexico accelerates deportations, people stuck at the border experience increased anxiety and stress as they wait for any kind of answer, far from home and loved ones. Thanks to our community of peacebuilders, our Thanksgiving meal gave displaced people a respite from their troubles as one meal united us around the table, reigniting hope.
Put People First