Individual actors participating in International

At the end of the day, individuals form part of the aforementioned organizations that participate in Acompanamiento International. Individuals can promote social change in all four of Moyer’s categories: Citizen, reformer, social change agent and rebel.

Over time, I have met numerous volunteers that have supported asylum seekers in El Paso, Texas. Below are a few examples of some of the individuals that I have met that participated in Acompanamiento International and promoted social change in the process.

Mary from New Mexico

Mary shared that she had spent time in Guatemala and felt a special connection to the country and to the people, and wanted to be of assistance in a meaningful way, “I had to do something to help people and I decided to drive to El Paso and offer my services”. Her professional background in healthcare and her ability to speak Spanish proved to be an asset at AH. Mary always found a way to show appreciation and to thank others that supported the asylum seekers. In our conversations, she acknowledged the people that donated money and resources to AH and the volunteers that made sandwiches and prepared snacks so that people could take food on the plane or the bus as they started their journey: "At Annunciation House, I sorted clothes, talked, and comforted people and cleaned bathrooms”. On her last day as a volunteer, she indicated to me that she wanted to do more for the AH volunteers because she felt that they were exhausted physically and emotionally due to the sheer volume of people coming through. CBP would drop people off at all hours of the day and night.

Those kids are not getting any rest or sleep, once a bus load of people arrive, they scramble to do the intake, provide food and drinks, take care of immediate needs such as diapers, showing people to the bathrooms, and then try to find a place for everyone to sleep.

Her sense of showing appreciation for other volunteers, for those taking care of others, was heartwarming to me.

Irma from El Paso

Irma mostly drove and accompanied families to the bus station. She relayed two very touching stories during her Acompanamiento International experience. As she was taking a woman and her daughter to the bus station, she learned that the young woman was on her menstrual cycle and did not have pads. She went to the store to purchase what she needed prior to taking them to the bus station. The family was very appreciative, especially when Irma paid for the purchase. Irma also shared that she lent her cell phone to a man who wanted to call his wife in Guatemala. Irma became teary eyed when she talked about “the joy that he expressed when he heard his wife’s voice on the phone. He was so grateful to me for having lent him my phone”. Irma recalled that the gratitude expressed by the asylum seekers for these two small gestures - making the drugstore purchase and lending the phone - led her to really appreciate what she has in life and not to complain about small inconveniences that she encounters on a daily basis.

Numerous examples of Acompanamiento International surfaced in El Paso. A local family opened their doors to asylum seekers with a child that had a contagious disease. The host stated that it was a great opportunity for her children to learn about human rights, compassion and international solidarity. Others donated diapers, food, toiletries and money and gift cards. Others attended rallies and protests, and contacted members of Congress to advocate for policy changes in the treatment of asylum seekers. Some volunteers provided legal assistance and medical care. Many of these groups and individuals rendered immediate assistance and helped to promote changes in public policies;

Acompanamiento International 211 their contributions at different levels help promote social change. People organizing rallies and protests also participate in Acompanamiento International because they bring awareness to this issue from the local to the international level and promote public policy changes. Acompanamiento International can take many forms, from hugging and offering moral support to asylum seekers, cooking meals and serving them at shelters, providing medical care, giving legal advice and more. Additionally, it can be done at a distance by providing anonymous donations to an NGO, or advocating and pleading for changes in government policies.

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