, 2022-09-18 07:11:00,
After sharing hugs and teary goodbyes with roughly 50 migrants who had arrived unexpectedly by plane on this affluent vacation island, the volunteers who sheltered them at an Episcopal church carried out tables and chairs, packed food onto trucks and folded portable cots.
A familiar quiet had descended by Friday afternoon on the tree-lined downtown block on Martha’s Vineyard, where Jackie Stallings, 56, could not stop thinking about a young Venezuelan – she was 23 but looked 15 – who sat with her in the St. Andrew’s Parish House the night before.
The asylum seeker showed Stallings cell phone video taken during the journey across a remote Central American jungle, pointing out migrants who died along the way.
“It was like she was showing me cat videos but it was actually their journey and what they endured to get here,” said Stallings, a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services nonprofit. “There were bodies and moms with babies trying to get through mud that was like clay.”
“The heartbreaking part is seeing these beautiful young ladies become desensitized,” said her husband, Larkin Stallings, 66, an Oak Bluffs bar owner who sits on the nonprofit’s board. “For them, they just flip and show you a picture.”
Stallings cut him off.
“She was like, look, this one died, part of their original party. And he died and this one died. The mud is like to up to here to them,” she said Friday in the shade of the parish house porch, pointing to her thigh. “And you see them, they literally have to lift their legs out the mud. They die because they get stuck.”
During their whirlwind 44-hour visit this week, migrants like the young Venezuelan woman left an indelible mark on their accidental hosts in this isolated enclave known as a summer playground for former US presidents, celebrities and billionaires.
The guests, including young children, boarded buses Friday morning around the corner from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
Days of uncertainty on the small island off the coast of Massachusetts and a massive effort by locals to provide for them ended with a new odyssey – a ferry ride and then another bus caravan to temporary housing at Joint…
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