Bordering on…

by Jon Julie Sullivan, SNDdeN

A young boy with photo of himself and a sibling. Photo by Jon Julie Sullivan, SNDdeN

Some people are content to be deaf, blind or mute.
Some aren’t.
Some institutions, same things going on.
Some governments, churches, congregations
organize for contentment, but that is not what it is.

“Keep those apples in the cart.”
“Don’t spill the milk.”
“Beware of rotten bananas.”
“Try to get the cherry on top.”
“Expect the biggest slice.”

Then I got to come to Matamoros’ tent-city in Mexico
expecting the migrants to be miserably lethargic
because of all the tragic chapters of their lives.

Our President kept pushing the “pause” button
controlling the process of acquiring asylum.
We began to know there was evidence in the news
of political strategies to move the “pause” to “delete”.

Families were sent back to their countries
to certain death.
Women were sent back to sexual violence, gang rape.
Children were sent back to traffickers or taken from parents, put into cages, or sent on to another detention center and lost .

The bridge or the river became the final choice.
Now suicide has become another option.
I knew that I wanted to come to “the border”
to take pictures, and hated the very idea of needing
to see, hear and say something with them.

Sister Jeanette Braun, SNDdeN, connects with a child living at the Matamoros migrant camp. Photo by Sister Jon Julie Sullivan, SNDdeN

Oh what beautiful families are here
in multicolored tents.
Children being raised by the village elders looking out
for all of them.
Eight year olds carrying one year olds.

Royal blue tarps on top of tents. Laundry stretched on bougainvillea bushes..onesies, dresses, overalls, shirts, pants and multicolored bras.

Men creating ovens from clay, tables from bamboo, digging trenches around their tents for rain run-off .
Lots of adults with handmade brooms sweeping dirt, clearing their “yard” of any debris.

Bringing photos back to the families the next day was graced by their “Gracias” and a firm embrace.

But I know it is not enough.


  1. Sr. Jon Julie was heaven sent! As our high school teacher she was approachable, caring and taught a great biology class. She had a magnetic personality. Looks like she has done many great things and has surely earned her place in heaven. May she rest in peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.