Laura Stump was the US Coordinator of the Migrant Resource Center from 2012-2013. She wrote this article, "Two Backpacks," at the end of her time as an intern with Frontera de Cristo.
He walked into the Center with two muddy backpacks, one hanging loosely on his slumped, tired back and one clenched in his hand, straps dragging on the floor. He lowered himself into a chair next to the others and said nothing-just stared off into the distance with glassy eyes and set his backpacks gently on the ground next to him.
We rushed right past him, responding to questions and helping everyone settle in around the Center, offering them coffee, food and the information they craved to calm their uneasiness. Where are we? Can we sleep here? Have you seen my brother?
But he said nothing.
Things settled around him, and for hours he remained still with the exception of a few cell phone calls which he took with his face buried in his hand, rubbing his eyes and his forehead as if to bring himself back to the present, to wake himself up.
Hours passed before he said anything. He dragged himself to the back of the Migrant Center, stood in front of me at the desk, and mumbled something unintelligible.
"I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to speak a little louder," I urged, wondering if he was in fact a migrant or someone who'd wandered in and who'd had a little too much to drink that morning.
"What's your name?"
"Ok, Silvestre. How can I help you?"
"I..I..." he rasped, not meeting my eyes, "I need...I'm supposed to call. About my wife. I need to call the consulate. I'm supposed to call the consulate...my wife..."
"Ok Silvestre. Don't worry, I'm sure she'll be released soon," putting on my best nobody-panic-you'll-be-fine voice, "but because it's Sunday, we can't call the consulate today. Where did you last see her?"
"No," he said, tears springing to his already puffy eyes, "she's dead. My wife died in Naco last night."