"THE MIGRANT CARAVAN — a mass of thousands of Central Americans who have walked for months to seek asylum in the US — arrived at the Tijuana border in November 2018. Common misconceptions due to our current political climate associate danger, violence, and a threatening drug cartel with the border town and migrants. But traveling to Mexico, visiting the shelters, and connecting with individual migrants — many of them young, unaccompanied minors — sheds light on a much different experience.Grlswirl, a grassroots, all-female skate community from Venice, California, and an all-female team consisting of a photographer, videographer, journalist, and translator ventured to migrant refugee shelters in Tijuana. The crew of 10 women journey to three shelters with trunks packed full of 100 new skateboards and much-needed donations with the goal of teaching migrant children the basics of skateboarding. What emerges through the skateboarding lessons is personal connections, laughter, and positivity that offers a momentary reprieve of the refugees’ harsh realities from their current daily livelihoods. Kids get to be kids again through the simple act of skateboarding. The stories of the migrants settled in the caravan camps parallel one another in challenge, difficulty, and purpose. Many walked thousands of miles to Tijuana from Central American countries including Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Often with no more than the clothes on their backs and a backpack of belongings, they’ve fled violence or persecution and the lack of socioeconomic opportunities. They wait at camps in Mexico for asylum in the US without any assurance of when that will be — especially in the wake of President Trump declaring a “national emergency” over border security and vetoing Congress’s attempt to override the order.“The people of the migrant caravan have an uphill battle they do not deserve,” documentary photographer, Rae Ceretto explains. “The governments on both sides [US and Mexico] are making it difficult for people to legally and illegally go through the system. Getting asylum in America or refugee status in Mexico is only the first step of a long journey.” - Jo Savage
October 15, 2020 — GRL SWIRL