From our Mothers to Yours: Good News from Artisans Beyond Borders ~ Spring 2021 Newsletter.

Embroidered by Alyson Martinez, 2021, Nogales, Sonora, Mexico

“Greetings from Berlin. Hello, you all! I am very happy and full of love to see all this beauty. Thanks for your wonderful shop, all the embroideries are sooo beautiful. We are all Mother-Earth-Women, and we stand together.” Svenja”

April 2021 Good News!

After waiting over a year and a half in shelters and on the streets in Nogales, Sonora Mexico, a number of asylum-seekers in the Artisans Beyond Borders collective are lawfully crossing the border to rejoin their families in the U.S.  Pro-bono lawyers at Justice for our Neighbors in Tucson and at the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, are working overtime alongside the U.S. Consulate, to free the makers and their families who’ve been stuck at the port of entry the longest.

They’ve been granted permission to cross the border now, one family at a time. First stop is Casa Alitas, Tucson’s lead shelter until travel arrangements can be made by relatives and sponsors waiting for them across the country. To see these families now, temporarily sheltered, fed, even embroidering at Casa Alitas is like seeing the sun come up in the morning, warm and bright, and full of hope.

Artisanal Embroiderers safe now in the U.S., 4/2021

Artisans Beyond Borders U.S. Support Team

Seven of our original artisanal embroiderers and their families, now in Chicago, Florida, South Carolina, and soon Washington D.C., may continue lawfully working with Artisans Beyond Borders while they wait for their court hearings. They are happy and relieved. Supporters of la Artesanas de Bordando Esperanza EE UU ~ Embroidering Hope U.S.A, can also breathe easier knowing that we have a way to continue to help meet these family’s immediate needs in the months ahead.

Winter was a nightmare for asylum-seekers stranded at the border. Though many families stranded for over a year on the borders of Texas and California were released, there was no such help for asylum-seekers in Arizona. Cold nights bitter with despair gripped the people. Ideas of crossing the desert on foot wouldn’t let up. Aid workers stomachs clenched with apprehension at the thought. We borderland residents knew that the odds for survival in our desert, especially for the very old and the young, were not in their favor. There was little we could do or say, for they were losing hope. They had waited too long. 

Each One, Teach One

At the same time, because the waiting was so long, artisans had time to hone their skills and create wholly original works of spirit and complexity. One core group of makers were admitted to a really good shelter with a garden and chickens and a gate that locked. Here they were finally safe. Highly skilled embroiderers, natural teachers all, emerged from the group and like family, taught the others.

By March and April, some could wait no longer to reunite with their families, and left. The rest stayed. We set up formal classes and the embroiderers recruited 9 new students into an ‘Each One, Teach One’ model. Selene, a sister bordadora and onsite coordinator, took photographs and made videos, a gift to new students in the future.

Bordando Esperanza Class, Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, Spring, 2021

The classes became a life saver for the asylum seekers that stayed. Their first teachers, two patient and encouraging sisters, both artisanal embroiderers, explained how important the classes were to keep the women engaged and safe from crossing the desert. In addition to the restorative calm – tranquilo- of familial handwork, purpose and dignity, especially for migrants is everything.

As more of our veteran artisans leave for the U.S., we witness the new artisans coming up and we are proud. What we know now world-over, is that generational cultural arts are the first thing that people lose when forced to migrate. As Friends of Artisans Beyond Borders, we want to celebrate cultural diversity and preserve Heritage craft. We will uphold the beloved hand-maker traditions of our neighbors to the south no matter what happens with the politics of immigration.

Artisan Offerings

If you’ve been following the Artisan’s Etsy shop, you may have seen our new Hospitality Mantas offered in singly or in pairs:

Now that we are able to begin opening up our homes again to old friends and new, we can set a beautiful table for long-awaited guests. I, for one, look forward to a day that I can welcome these courageous and creative women in the way they have welcomed our volunteers into their families and their traditions. Their individual Hospitality Mantas also bring beauty, stillness and grace to our Altars, Ofrendas, and Santuarios.

“A soul of hospitality and a heart of humanity is a house of love, peace, freedom, liberty and justice.” Asulig Ice.

Collector’s Corner

“I saw the article in the Arizona Daily Star featuring Artisans Beyond Borders. The picture of the beautiful mantas hanging in the air to dry. It was a win – win!

     I was born in Douglas, AZ, across the border with Mexico. Seeing such poverty first-hand made a lasting impression.
     The workmanship and creativity of the mantas is amazing. I gift them to family and friends. I do keep some that I alternate to display on the back of my bedroom chair. It is the first thing I see each morning—it brings me joy to think of the strong women who created them.
     Thank you Artisans Beyond Borders for helping the embroiderers bring us such beautiful art!”

                                                                                              Collector Jane Powers, Tucson, AZ

New Digs & Gigs

ABB is pleased to announce that we have moved to a new office in downtown Tucson, with a common space that we share with other small non-profit Refugee organizations including Tucson’s Owl and Panther and MCC Border Outreach. In the Fall 2021, we hope to be open for visiting groups by appointment. Right now, we’re seeking a dedicated computer for the new office and a cell phone with a good camera. We are also looking for two new volunteers:

ABB Administrative Coordinator. PT, Unpaid

The all-volunteer Tucson Friends of Artisans Beyond Borders, affiliate of Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has grown to need a part-time Administrative Coordinator to manage our office and help with volunteers, financials, communications, & marketing. Our ideal person would be bilingual (Spanish/English), flexible, computer-savvy, and passionate about borderland Arts/Immigration and the restorative healing of traditional handwork. Contact Mary at Contact@ArtisansBeyondBorders.org

ABB U.S Support Liaison, PT, Unpaid/Volunteer/Intern

As our embroiderers arrive in the U.S., we want to continue assisting them in marketing their artisanal craft as they settle into their new homes. Bilingual (Spanish/English) mandatory for this position, organized, detail-oriented, social media savvy, and passionate about the preservation of Cultural Arts and immigration and the restorative healing of traditional handwork. Creative project possibilities.  Contact Valarie at Contact@ArtisansBeyondBorders.org

Over the spring semester, we were fortunate to work with Bethany Ward, an intern from Bentley University in Boston, minoring in nonprofit management. She brought a bright and creative spirit to ABB and helped us with social media and non-profit research. We wish her the very best of luck pursuing her career goals related to environmental and climate awareness. 

*Artisans Beyond Borders brings healing, grace and agency to asylum-seekers stranded at the border or struggling to get on their feet across the U.S. ABB is an all-volunteer grass-roots initiative that exists soley through the support of donors and collectors. We are actively seeking social investors who want to change the story at the border and partner with us in creating a new vision that we can all be proud of. Please reach out at Contact@ArtisanBeyondBordes.org

Mothers Across Borders, Madres Unidos Sin Fronteras through the wall organized with delight by Voices From the Border on Mother’s Day, 2017

Support the Artisans on Mother’s Day at

Bordando Esperanza

Holding onto Faith ~ An Altar to the Virgen de Guadalupe by and for women at the shelter

Canvas of Hope

Last but not least, the artisans beyond borders are excited and proud to be part of “Canvas of Hope,” Community Art Auction to benefit all of the shelters along the border. Please join us on Saturday, May 1 at 12 noon AZ time. Bidding open until end of day.

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