All of the migrants that come through our doors (ICE drops them off at our location) have family members already in the US. Our job is to make sure they are fed, clothed, and rested before they get on the long bus ride (often multiple days long as they are travelling all over the country) to meet their loved ones. There they will begin the legal process. Multiple families come in every single day.
Last night was a night like any other. We had three mothers dropped off with their children. The kids were all very well behaved, which is actually unusual since they have been through so much--many of them detained for days--when they get to us and, so, have tons of nervous energy to burn.
I'm not very good with hyper children so on most nights I busy myself talking to the mothers and leave the children to the other volunteers who have had more experience with children than I have. Last night, however, because the children were being more mellow, I was comfortable spending time with them. So, last night was the first time I noticed how exhausted these kids were. One little boy in particular (he seemed like he was 3 or 4 years old) was so tired that he did not know what to do with himself. He was hungry but didn't want to eat. He was bored but didn't want to play. When I drove him and his family to the bus station he cried when he had to get out of the van. So, I picked him up and carried him and he immediately fell asleep on my shoulder.
Honestly, at that point I was comforting him but he was also comforting me. I felt such a sense of relief that I could finally make him feel better. I did not put him down until his mom had dealt with her bus ticket situation and was ready to be with him (By the way, have you ever seen a Greyhound bus ticket? These things are very confusing.).
I've been volunteering with this organization since July and I often go home after my shift feeling like I've done nothing productive. I didn't help anyone. I just moved these people from one shitty situation to the next one. Last night, thanks to this moment with this little boy, I felt like I was doing something.