Were you considering buying me a birthday gift? Donate instead!
I was recently accepted into the No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes month-long volunteer program for the month of April. From April 1st-May 4th, I will take a leave of absence from my public health research job at John Snow Inc. to volunteer with No More Deaths.
No More Deaths is a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona whose mission is to end death and suffering on the U.S.–Mexico border through civil initiative. The organization is guided by the conviction that people of conscience must work openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights.
As part of the volunteer program, I will work in the remote southwestern Arizona Desert into which migration has been pushed, where people are walking 30 to 80 miles. As a volunteer, I will hike the trails and leave water, food, socks, blankets, and other supplies. Under the direction of the No More Deaths medical team, I will also work with other volunteers to provide emergency first-aid treatment to individuals in distress.
I initially applied to work with No More Deaths because while ICE and law enforcement continue to criminalize and dehumanize migrants, No More Deaths provides necessary grassroots and community support to migrants in need. Although the number of deportations and immigrants detained by ICE increased rapidly before the current administration took control in 2016, the attacks against immigrants continue to accelerate. Organizations such as No More Deaths function independently of law enforcement and provide a safe community for migrants seeking care. NMD understands that giving people the healthcare and social services they need should be a human right and not be based on immigration status.
This experience will undoubtedly influence my work both as a public health evaluator and as an activist in my community. I will learn about how to best build solidarity between my community and the No More Deaths community and bring those lessons back to Boston.
To volunteer with No More Deaths, I need to cover my expenses and travel while I'm there and my expenses in Boston (rent, utilities, etc.) because I am taking a leave without pay from work. So, I am writing to ask friends and family who are able, to donate. My goal is $2,000, which would cover my food/shelter and plane tickets as well as the cost of any expenses here in Boston.
Donations can be small - anything will help!
For anyone who donates, I will be happy to give a presentation at your school, organization, institution, or company about my experience. I will also send everyone personalized thank you notes from the field.
Thank you so much for your support!
- Kathleen Oconnor
- Matthew Donato
- Shannon Doyle
- Leanna Ehrlich
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