Yesterday I drove 13 hours from Colorado to Arizona. On the drive down I thought about all of the trips I've made, the progression of Madres e Hijos, and the trajectory of the Artisan Project.
A few weeks ago, I found out that one of the women in the project was planning a second attempt to cross into the US. My initial reaction was this - that while I understood her motivation, she could no longer be a part of the project.
Thirteen hours in a car creates a lot of opportunity for introspection. I stopped along the side of the road, and started to write...
Climate, politics, violence, famine. There are so many factors creating the need to migrate. We are not here to tell others whether or not they have the right to seek a better life. We are not here to stand in judgement of those who can no longer live off the land that has fed their families for generations, or judge those fleeing their homes in the middle of the night to seek safety for themselves and their loved ones.
The Artisan Project exists to provide a pathway to empowerment and dignity for women in Central America. At its greatest point, it creates community and builds bonds of connection between women, creating touch points for the larger journeys we all must make. We would, of course, love to play a role in allowing these women to stay in the home communities that they know and love, yet reality often dictates the impossibility of this desire.
So we open doors. We create opportunities for women to come together and sit in conversation and friendship. We honor culture and generational knowledge by encouraging their beautiful art and creating a market for these women to share their gifts and stories.
That is all we can do. We do not stand in judgement. We do not have the power to ultimately shift the trajectory of many peoples lives. But we do have hope, and compassion, and will do everything in our power to honor our shared humanity. It is from this awareness and understanding that we step out of our comfort zones and open our hearts to one another. We truly believe that embodying our shared humanity is our path forward.
With a heartfelt apology, I look forward to inviting that woman back into the project.