My first morning in Mexico City, I woke up to the Casa shaking. Not just the Casa, but the ground itself, my very foothold on this new home/country. The last few days in the Casa have been exactly that, getting my footing and finding solid ground with the help and hospitality of the many people welcoming me into this radiant and dynamic community. I have already meet a host of students and researchers, social justice workers, activists, and nostalgic ex-volunteers from the Quaker youth work camps that first brought the Quaker community to Mexico for social service works projects in the 1930s.
And it was in fact seismic activity that triggered one of the most intense periods of relief work at the Casa, when the 1985 earthquake shook Mexico City (measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale), and caused an immediate emergency in which the Casa found itself called to respond to the greatest extent possible–searching through rubble, housing people, providing food assistance, etc. Although the Casa has not since had to respond to such a tragedy, the practice of hospitality and outreach remains central to the work that happens here on a daily basis.
Today, a tremor shook the Casa and me in it, triggering memories of the experiences the Casa has lived and the strength of its willpower when faced with devastation. For the time being, that devastation refers (in part) to the crisis of global migration–stretched out across continents–and the instability manifests itself in human lives as opposed to collapsing structures of concrete and metal. The Casa responds to this reality through its Solidarity Lodging and Peace programs, partnerships with other migrants rights organizations and a positive presence within the neighborhood and larger D.F. community. These relationships allow the Casa to respond to the great need of migrants and refugees fleeing impossible economic and political circumstances in their countries of origin (most recently Nigeria, the Congo and Central America).
The work I will be doing in the coming months will respond to these realities of migration with strategies for peace and understanding, both across international borders and in Mexican civil society. So I’m glad that on Wednesday morning I got a solid reminder of the Casa’s resiliency despite resting on constantly shifting ground.