‘I Need A Smile For These Children At Least Once A Day’

The sounds of Texas.

By Joy Diaz & Shelly BrisbinDecember 29, 2020 1:24 pm,

In 2018, Elisa O’Callaghan was far from calm. The conditions in which migrants were being detained along the U.S.-Mexico border affected her deeply. She’s the daughter of immigrants herself.

“I was losing my faith in humanity from all of the things that was happening to migrants – the tear gassing in San Diego…” she said. “It shook me.”

Without knowing anyone in the area, O’Callaghan drove to Brownsville to see what she could do to ease the suffering she saw. She connected with teachers who were traveling to Matamoros, Mexico, educating children during the day and feeding them in the evening. 

She says more than 3,000 people were living on the streets of Matamoros.

“The moment that I saw children with nothing, waiting for their turn to get their first shower in months at the mobile shower, and playing with mud, playing with trash, playing with rocks, playing with whatever they can, I said ‘no!’ It just came to me. What I wanted to do was give children a little calmness.”

CALM dolls

“When you hug, em, you feel like you’re hugging a cloud. They are different critters. They could be a tiger, a bear, a lion, a cat, a dog.”

“CALM dolls… Creating a Loving Memory. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. Created a memory in this child that has migrated from their country to the border.”

“I need these children to look at thes, and they look back at them, with a smile. I need a smile for these children at least once a day.”

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