This article by volunteer-program coordinators Allison Semmler and Tyler Espinoza appeared in our fall newsletter.
As temperatures in the Sonoran desert rose to over 100 degrees in early June, No More Deaths welcomed the first group of summer volunteers. By the end of the summer program on October 24, over seventy-five volunteers from around the country will have given humanitarian aid at the Arivaca desert camp and the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta, Sonora.
So far, the new volunteers have taken on the No More Deaths mission of ending death and suffering in the US–Mexico border region with an impressive level of energy and commitment.
Seasonal volunteers helped expand the work of NMD into the Ajo region, where the desert is more brutal and temperatures reached 112 degrees in July.
Most volunteers decided individually to volunteer a chunk of their summers but we also hosted student groups and families. Volunteers are bringing a wide range of experiences and skills this summer. Nurses, EMTs, students, poets, parents, teachers, and DACA recipients are among the participants who work hard in the desert every day.
Many volunteers come to learn about the border region for one or two weeks, then return home to share what they learned with their home communities. We have been lucky to see a few of our new volunteers stay for most of the summer and take on more responsibilities.
In the blazing Sonoran summers, it is impossible for migrants to carry enough water to sustain themselves for their entire trip north. Volunteers leave an average of 350 gallons of water per week on migrant trails during the hottest periods. Donations from our supporters worldwide make it possible for volunteers to provide food, water and medical care to travelers.
The summer monsoons turn the roads into rivers and sometimes make it difficult for volunteers to return to camp or go on water drops. Seasonal volunteers helped expand the work of NMD into the Ajo region, where the desert is more brutal and temperatures reached 112 degrees in July. They also helped staff the medical tent at camp and treated people with blisters, twisted ankles, cuts, tooth infections, and other ailments.
Other volunteers provided basic services at the Migrant Resource Center, on the other side of the border from Douglas, Arizona, to people who were recently repatriated. They gave food and personal-hygiene supplies to dozens of people every day. Some volunteers even used their free time to help prepare dinner and clean at a nearby shelter.
The summer has been long and demanding for our volunteers and resources, but we are still going strong! Thank you to everyone who has given time, money, and energy to help No More Deaths work toward our mission.