The southern border of the United States is a place where vulnerable look for hope as they leave behind the violence, poverty, and fear in their home countries farther south.

At the border, asylum seekers go through initial screening by U.S. immigration services and get legal permission to wait in the U.S. for the next step in the asylum process. 

People who complete this process often leave the immigration office exhausted, confused, and afraid. They then find their way to a temporary respite center, usually founded by compassionate Christians, to get assistance while they wait for their asylum determination.

At respite centers, weary and vulnerable people are fed, have a chance to take a shower, and get their clothes laundered.

Generally, they stay one to three days while the staff help them make contact with family that will house them while they wait for their hearing. The asylum process that can take months. Most often, families send a bus ticket to the shelter to provide transportation for their loved one.

After the mass shooting that targeted Hispanic people in El Paso, Texas, in August, staff at a respite center there became keenly aware of the lack of security and safety at their facility. World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) volunteers, along with staff person Jeff Greenway, made a two-day drive to El Paso to repair the front of the building, including securing the doors. 

They also fixed the dilapidated showers, broken stalls, and made other necessary repairs to the building and fixtures. In the photo above, DRS volunteers repaired showers and secured a main entrance

Toward the end of their time in El Paso, the volunteers visited the scene of the mass shooting.

They signed a green World Renew DRS hat and placed it in a long row of memorial items left in memory of the victims. It was an emotional experience for the volunteers, who got a small sense of what others were suffering.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe,” Jeff said. “We are grateful to be able to provide a greater sense of security for those who stay at this center.”

Header photo and the image above: World Renew volunteers contribute to a memorial for mass-shooting victims