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Christmas Gifts in the Darien Gap

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The Darien Gap, the lawless jungle crossing between South and Central America, is the most dangerous migration land route in the world. This year a record number, more than half a million people, walked from Colombia to Panama braving a myriad of dangers— from armed criminal groups , to natural hazards to physical challenges like severe dehydration and exhaustion— all of which can be fatal in such a remote location .

A lot of these migrants are forced to wait in Colombia for their turn to cross, sometimes for weeks. We thought it would be a wonderful gesture to bring them some Christmas gifts in person! Not only is it a kind gesture to people willing to risk their lives for a better future, it's a way to show the human side a community that is often portrayed in media and popular culture as either "victims" or "illegals" rather than people.

My name is Joshua Collins. I'm a journalist in Colombia that has long covered migration in Central and South America for a host of international outlets, including in the Darien .

And this is what we want to do:

We can't give migrants gifts they will have to carry through the tough jungle terrain, but we thought it would be really nice to provide some essentials: starting with non-perishable, light foodstuffs that don't require cooking, clean portable water, iodine water-treatment pills (migrants drinking contaminated water has led to problems which can be intense in a multi-day jungle crossing) and some very basic first aid items.

All of those things will be a huge help, but in addition to the essentials, we have to do something nice as well, it's Christmas! And that's a huge deal in Latin America. We also want to give baked goods, sweets and some candy to the kids! All in all, these items aren't a huge cost, which is why we set our budget so low.

We want to deliver the goods on Christmas day, with another person present dressed as Santa Clause to really give the kids something to be excited about.

I will already be in Medellin, Antioquia, for another story. So we will be close to Necocli, the beach town at the mouth of the Darien Gap where many migrants are camped on the beach before they are allowed by Colombian officials to cross by boat to the entrance itself.

What we need:

1) Some basic cash for the presents and supplies
2) Two bus tickets from Medellin to Necocli

And that's it! I'm happy to cover the costs of lodging and food for both myself and a volunteer. We will produce a video of our endeavors at Pirate Wire Services , an independent media company that I run, so you can see the smiles of the kids yourselves.

I will also post all receipts of costs, so you know your money went to where it was needed most.

Any extra funds we raise will be given to a local charity that deals with migrants. I have a lot of contacts in that field from years of journalism work.

And that's it! Simple right? And beautiful too. Help make a migrant family's day. Every little bit helps!


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Joshua Collins
Brooklyn, NY

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