PEI

Former UPEI prof, novice nun, in Texas helping refugee families find their way in U.S.

From a career as a NASA engineer to becoming a UPEI professor and now living life as a nun, her adventures have taken her around the world and now she's found herself in the western horn of Texas helping refugees plan their journey in the U.S.

'It's just one constant prayer. One constant prayer for their future'

Libby Osgood is living out of a hotel and spends her waking hours helping immigrants. (Libby Osgood/literallylibby.blogspot.com)

Libby Osgood has surely done it all.

From a career as a NASA engineer, to becoming a UPEI professor and now living life as a nun, her adventures have taken her around the world and now she's found herself in the western horn of Texas helping refugees plan their journey in the U.S.

Osgood is in El Paso — a city right on the Texas, Mexico border — because of a call put out by the non-profit organization Annunciation House.

It claims to have been helping migrant families and refugees in the area for the last 40-plus years, but now it needs volunteers to help the 500 people crossing into the U.S. every day, Osgood said.

A lot of what we've been doing is like a taxiing service, I considered myself an  Uber  one day.— Libby Osgood

With that in mind, she told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier, "myself and two of our other sisters from the Congregation of Notre Dame have answered the call."

She's now living out of a hotel and spends her waking hours helping refugees who have been released from immigration facilities in the U.S.

'The worry tends to melt from their face'

When the people are released from the facilities, she said, they have to have sponsoring families elsewhere in the U.S. to go to and that's where the volunteers' work begins.

The individuals and families newly arrived in the U.S. are people "who've been through a lot," she said, that come "with this hardened look" as they step off the bus.

Preparing hundreds of peanut butter sandwiches is just one part of making the care packages for the individuals and families. (Libby Osgood/literallylibby.blogspot.com)

That's until, she said, herself and other volunteers welcome them and tell them they're not alone and that volunteers are going to help them along the way.

"Then they look around and see a dozen volunteers standing there smiling at them, the worry tends to melt from their face," she said.

Osgood and others give them a place to stay until that sponsor family can get the refugee a bus or airplane ticket. While they wait for that, the volunteers prepare care packages including making "hundreds and hundreds of peanut butter sandwiches" for the journey ahead.

'They are resilient people'

Once the plan comes together as to how the people are going to get to their sponsor families, she and others take the families to bus stations and airports to send them off to different parts of the country.

​"A lot of what we've been doing is like a taxiing service, I considered myself an Uber one day," she said.

"If we can, they'll let us go in through security and take them up to the gate and try to explain all the crazy things. One of the things that people have been not too sure about is going into the bathroom and getting the sink to turn on or the toilet to flush."

This list gives people an idea of how long their journey may be by bus. (Libby Osgood/literallylibby.blogspot.com)

The send-off is usually a quick one, however, because while she's happy to see them go she has to rush back to help the dozens and dozens more waiting to begin their new lives as well.

"They are resilient people and I have no doubt they're going to do great in life here in America and I'm excited that they get the chance," she said.

"It's just one constant prayer. One constant prayer for their future, for the hope that they have and that they continue to have that."

She'll finish her weeks of volunteering in El Paso in early February and then make her way back to the eastern states before "hopefully" coming back to P.E.I. for a spell.

In the mean time, she'll be there helping as many as she can and, when time permits, chronicling her efforts in her blog.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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