Local group helps refugees caught in growing border crisis
The growing influx of people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras is adding to a full-scale crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. With so many people trying to leave their home countries, many get stuck on the Mexico side of the border and are forced to live in camps or on the streets without basic necessities. But one local group is trying to help. People Caring for People is an Oklahoma City non-profit made up completely of volunteers. One of them, Clarence Gourley, says he has seen it all.
"I lived on the river for 38 days," he said, "it was awful, really bad."
Gourley credits the non-profit with giving him a car and a new purpose in life. Now he travels with other volunteers to Mexico to help refugees, many of them children, stuck at the border after they escape their home countries.
"You go there and you see all these people that are just suffering, now I mean with nothing, living in the middle of dumps," Gourley said.
"We formed because we saw people slipping through the cracks," said People Caring for People Executive Director Stuart Malloy.
The non-profit works in the Metro, helping people like Gourley, but it also brings medical supplies, food, and blankets to a nursing home in Rio Bravo and a refugee center in Reynosa, Mexico.
Volunteers also help run a clinic there.
Reynosa is one of the major areas border patrol estimates 90,000 unaccompanied minors will try to pass through this year.
With the growing crisis volunteers know the problem is political. But they say their mission has nothing to do with politics.
"I hear the protests, I hear both sides, but somewhere in the middle of the political struggle is the reality," Malloy said, "and the faces of people who are hurting."
So volunteers pledge to do what they can. Gourley says it's like coming full circle: helping others without homes after overcoming the problem himself.
"Makes you really appreciate what we have here in the United States," he said.
People Caring for People will make another trip to Mexico at the beginning of January. To find out more visit their website www.pcfp.org.