I met the crew at the detention center again tonight at 7:00. Our coordinator was pacing around. We had the same kind, professional guard I met the first time. A white family was in the waiting area this time – the first white family I’d seen. A few adorable toddler sized kids were running around too- kind of running wherever- around the waiting area, into the visiting area and back, down the hall- just playing chase. The guard didn’t seem to be bothered by this added chaos in the least. They were cute.
As usual, it took a while for the center to round up the people we planned to visit. We finally spoke with our people at 8.
I’d gotten a letter from M., saying he thought he’d be out by now but I learned he was still there. I got to talk to him. He said his October hearing went well and he should be out next week. His bond was set at $5,000.00 which he didn’t have so he must wait in the center. He thanked God for his pro bono lawyers and for getting out. He said he’s been fasting. He wants God to know how thankful he is to be almost out the door. He prays daily to actually get out of the door. M. talked nonstop about his hearing, the power of God, and getting out and seeing his babies again.
While we were talking, I saw J., the 23 year old who likes my cat pictures walk behind M. and he smiled and waved. M. told me that his hearing went well and he’s getting out too. “Can you believe that?”, “He represented himself and he is getting out! God is helping us.” I smiled to hear this news.
I met with S again too. S. told me he’s been stressed. “There’s a lot of stuff going on with my family,” he said. “And some of the other people in here I don’t get along with. I’ve been in here longer than all the other guys.” He said. He looked stressed too. We chatted about the weather and football and Thanksgiving. He seemed a little more relaxed after our chat? He thanked us for visiting and promised to write.
M. and S. had the exact same report about Thanksgiving dinner at the detention center: a solid “meh.” “It was Ok.” M. said. S. put his hand up in a “so-so” gesture. “Nothing like home cooked,” they both agreed.
M. reported that they feed them bread for every meal. He doesn’t think it’s good. He says they have no fresh vegetables either. “Everything is boiled. No flavor. Not even salt, no spices.” He made a face.
This visit, another volunteer met a young man who has been in detention since he was 10 years old. He’s now 18 and they are deporting him to Guatemala. The volunteer was dismayed. “He has no family there. He hasn’t lived there since he was small. What will happen to him?”
As I left I said “thank you” to the guard though the slot. He looked up and nodded to me and smiled.
On the ride home, we talked about the conflict in El Salvador, we discussed ISIS, and gang mentality in general.
What can end conflicts like this? What are pathways to peace that work?
We will be back.