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  • Writer's pictureVoices from the Border

Our Five Year Anniversary

June 1st, 2018 was an auspicious day for Voices from the Border. For those of our readers who may not know, Voices emerged as a direct response to the election of Donald Trump after several of our founders attended the Women's March of January 2017 in Tucson. This experience galvanized us to start a movement, and the outcome was Voices from the Border. Originally a grassroots organization in Patagonia, AZ centered on border, environmental, and women's health and education issues, Voices became a humanitarian aid-focused nonprofit in the spring of 2018.

Late that May, a few hundred people, mainly from Central America and Mexico, were camped out at the Nogales, Sonora port of entry (18 miles south of Patagonia), waiting to request asylum in the US. After witnessing this situation, a small group of us knew we needed to help. We didn't know what we were

doing other than following our hearts and trusting the outcome.

On June 1, 2018, five years ago today, as we walked through the turnstiles into Mexico carrying the food, water, clothes, diapers, etc, we had bought with money we raised earlier that day, the trajectory of our lives changed forever.

While distributing donations among the migrants at the port of entry, we met nurse/EMT Pancho Olachea Martin who was attending to the migrants’ medical needs. We also met cousins Adriana and Cesar (see below) and their mothers, Telma and Gladys, who were seeking asylum from Guatemala. Our relationships with some of the people we met those first few days continue today.

By the fall of 2018, Voices from the Border had become an official 501(c)3 with the mission of providing humanitarian aid to migrants and asylum seekers in Nogales, Sonora. Today, June 1, 2023, we recognize both our fifth anniversary as a nonprofit and our expanded mission, which includes migrant services in both Nogales, Sonora, and the US, as well as creative activism and outreach to increase awareness about the lived experience of migration.

Today, June 1st, we also celebrate (fun fact), a binational love story embedded in the Voices tale. Today is the second wedding anniversary of Voices founding member, Kathi Noaker, and nurse/EMT Pancho Martin, who met that fateful day five years ago when Kathi walked through the turnstile to help serve those

who were seeking their own life-change on the other side.

Friends, you have been part of this journey since its beginning, and its continued unfolding could not have happened without you. Voices has been entirely sustained by your donations. You may notice that we did not use the word "celebrate" above in describing Voices fifth anniversary. We do not celebrate the

gaping need for support and services for migrants and asylum seekers throughout the world. We’d like our work to become obsolete, the border/migration crisis having been resolved. But this is NOT today’s reality. We continue to ask for your support of the work we do, and for your prayers for our migrant and asylum-seeking friends.

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