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Journal 10 - Responsibility

February 02, 2006

I find myself wondering today what my role is here in Ceuta. What my responsibility is to the immigrants who pass through here. What limits Cruz Blanca, as an organization, has. I wonder how small or large the window of help really is. What can the staff do when they face the same issues, the same people traffic everyday?

Today we fed fifty men for lunch. Four cafeteria tables full. But when we ask why so many today, nobody seems to know. Sometimes we hurriedly fill bags of bread for those banging on the door after supper. So many times those at the front door, pleading, are not let in.
Yesterday Derrick took a German tourist whose bags had been stolen in Morocco to the police station, to a hostal, just trying to get him help, food and a place to stay. The man wasn’t allowed to stay here because he is a tourist, not an immigrant. I admire Derrick for doing so much for him. The same man has been back for meals and is trying to get money to get back to Spanish mainland. That situation and being here each day leaves me asking what we can really do for those here. I admit I am quick to say, “nothing” and send them on their way with a good luck pat on the back. I am slower to trust those seeking help.

I also wonder about the responsibility of Cruz Blanca. Should they take in everyone who needs a bed? Because they are government funded, they have limits, have to answer to authority. Sometimes it seems like for the staff here, though always compassionate, stranded tourists and hungry men are nothing new. For me, I am new to the situation here. Turning people away is hard. For those who have been here for the long haul, they understand that the same faces will be back tomorrow. It leaves me believing that there will always be hunger. There will always be the person on the move.

Entonces, what is my responsibility? Taking a minute to show someone where the police station is. Giving out email addresses and phone numbers. Teaching languages. What can I do here that will be of worth? What does it mean to know that the work of such a place as Cruz Blanca will never end? There will always be someone hungry for the person who is fed.
What about when I go from here? What responsibility do I have to this situation, to this place? What role do I have with my home community’s immigrants, my community’s poor?

I want to be quicker to trust. Quicker to fulfill the immediate needs of people. Do what is in my capacity to do with a sincere heart, free of ulterior motives. Yet the truth remains that I will never honestly know the immigrant or the refugee. To them I have to confess that I do not understand your kind of pain or past. I cannot say I have been there or even that I will stay here with you. Eventually, I am moving on from here. I have the mobility you crave which I cannot give you a piece of. I do not pretend to know what kind of life has brought you to this point. But for now, one fact remains though small, at times insignificant: Our paths have crossed. And it is up to me, and you, and God and Ala to find out what that means.