One of my favorite quotes to think of when feeling overwhelmed about the adversities of the world comes from Confucius: “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
This past weekend, I was reminded of that quote when grassroots organization Boundless Across Borders and its volunteers traveled to the colonias along the outskirts of Juarez. I rode along with them about 45 minutes outside the city to Kilometro 30, known as Colonia Tarahumara, where they delivered 500 gallons of bottled water to the residents who have no access to running water.
How much thought do we put into the water we use to wash our hands, rinse shampoo off our hair or take a dip in a pool? People often glamorize the idea of living off the grid, but for many of those living in practically forgotten plots of land just to have some form of shelter, living off the grid isn’t a happy escape from civilization.
Boundless Across Borders co-founder Xochitl Rodriguez-Nicholson recently learned about the residents’ conditions through a friend, who said that although the residents have no infrastructure, they have to pay the same taxes as those who do.
“It appears to me that there’s nobody advocating for them, so it’s easy for them to become part of a system that isn’t benefitting them, but is still taking from them,” Xochitl said.
While bringing residents packages of bottled water invoked smiles on both ends, it left Xochitl and other volunteers with the same feeling: it’s not enough. After I saw the girl I rode along with hand over the last package of water to one family, kids walked up to us asking if we had more. It was heartbreaking to tell them, “I’m sorry, but we don’t.”
Once people learned through the news and Boundless Across Borders’ Facebook page what was being done, some asked questions like, “Why isn’t Mexico’s government doing anything about this?” and “Why are these volunteers helping Juarez instead of those living in outskirts of El Paso?” I challenge people who ask the latter question to ask themselves, “What am I doing to help change the situation?” After all, the water that was donated didn’t come from our taxes, but from people who simply wanted to help in some way. While it can feel as if handing out bottles of water makes a tiny difference, it made a difference nevertheless.
And it certainly inspired a push for change. Boundless just announced that the Municipal President of Ciudad Juarez, Héctor Armando Cabada Alvídrez, granted them permission to cross as much water as needed, whereas before the amount they were allowed to cross was limited. There will also be municipal vehicles to help bring the water to the colonias.
If you’re interested in donating money to help Boundless bring water trucks to the colonias, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or send them a message at facebook.com/BOUNDLESSacrossBORDERS. It costs around $35 to fill a truck. Xochitl said she’s also open to suggestions on how to streamline the process or help others in need on either side of the border.
To learn more about the Juarez colonias situation, see KVIA ABC-7’s recent coverage at KVIA.com.