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Janet/LaFleur and Tom recently returned from a two week trip to the El Paso-Juarez border. They did 25 magic performances in many places on both sides of the border:
+Detention Centers for children separated from their families; We worked for months to get into these SW Key centers, but we finally did and after our last show in one of the Detention Centers, the director, who organized our performances, wrote: “It was a joy to see how much the children enjoyed the magic, how they laughed with delight. They spoke about the show all day. Please come again.”
+Many shows for migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador seeking asylum from the violence, oppression and poverty of their countries;
+We did six performances in the Casa de cuidado dario -child care centers for the women and men who work in the factories (“maquiladora workers“)…they drop their children off at 4:00 a.m. and head to work, picking their children up 14 hours later. They get paid $40-50/wk for their long labor in these factories making parts for our i-phones, auto parts, appliances, electronics, most of which are sent by train and truck to the US. Such Capitalist exploitation/slave labor just across the border!
+We did a number of shows for Assumption House, founded by Reuben Garcia who has been working with migrants crossing the border for many years. The last day we were there Sr. Mary Soh, a Franciscan nun from Singapore, said: “These people have had such a long painful journey. What a joy to hear our halls filled with their laughter and delight. God bless you, your work is amazing. No one comes here to bring laughter to these suffering souls. Please come again.”
We have performed for refugees and migrants in 35 countries around the world, but there was something deeply personal and moving about this journey for us. We had an eye and heart opening time in this difficult, complicated, painful place called “The Border.”
The headlines about immigration, caravans, invasions, “Mexican rapists and murders,” children in detention centers separated from their families for months and months –it all got very close and personal as we walked with these folks every day across the bridge into Mexico and back across the bridge each night into the US.
It all became very moving and personal when we saw the sad and depressed faces of the children in detention and saw those faces light up with laughter and delight when Lafleur did her mime and Tom did his magic. We are filled with many memorable and moving memories of our days on the border being “citizen diplomats”, as Janet likes to say.
We feel blest that Magicians Without Borders can bring a few moments of love, laughter, magic and hope to folks who are in painful situations. Magic makes the impossible seem possible, and that can awaken hope in the hearts of these folks who have suffered so much. They are fleeing violence and poverty and are seeking a new life in America as so many millions have sought to make their hopes and dreams come true here in America, this land of opportunity. May we open our hearts, our arms and our borders and say with the Statue of Liberty poem:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”