The drive from UC San Diego to Detainee Allies with my group mates allow for a long conversation about our well-being, reflecting on the quarter so far, and preparing our minds for what we may read by ending in silence. I must give myself time to meditate. Most of the letters we read describe their personal situation; in need of money, resources, missing their family, feeling alone. However, all the letters have two bits of information in common, which is their name and A#. The detention centers gives these people a number they possibly will never forget. This number is engraved into their brain, just like we remember our parent’s phone number. Unlike our parents phone number, the connection these A# have is to trauma, hunger, fear, and pain. I have sat still before, after reading a letter. I fall into a spiral of thoughts, looking for a solution as if I was solving a difficult math equation. I bring my comments and concerns with an organizer, but she reminds me of the work we are doing now will have a long term positive impact in our society. I am witnessing how a community can give people in detention centers their voices back through letter writing.
On Tuesday, we meet at the home of one of the organizers near San Diego State University. We are divided into different jobs, like an assembly line, like reading letters, folding literature, put literature inside envelope and seal, write name & A# and stamp, and sending money. Their home becomes a hub for the organization, where they receive letters from all over the country, and recently from Canada.