EDGARTOWN - A big effort from a small island to welcome about 50 Venezuelan migrants and make them feel at home. A steady stream of locals from Martha's Vineyard dropped off bins of clothes and bags of food at a shelter set up in St. Andrews Episcopal Church Thursday.
Through an interpreter, one of the migrants described his first interactions with locals after he got off a plane that had come straight from Texas. "Everybody was like, 'who are you?' 'No, who are you?' And everybody's like, 'well?'"
Translator Claudia Quesada was happy to help clear up the confusion. She just happened to be on the Vineyard performing in a play by a Chilean playwright. "It's funny 'cause we all, the cast, we all speak Spanish and this morning it's like, 'hey we need anybody who can help translate,' so we're like 'hey, we're here!'"
She said the group of migrants had no idea they were headed to an island. "The woman just told him that, 'I'm going to take you to Massachusetts,'" she said, translating. "They're extremely grateful for everyone's hospitality, and everyone's been so welcoming and kind."
"I just feel really badly for the people. You know it's a tragedy," said one woman who dropped off bags of fruit. "It's really upsetting that these poor people have been used," said another woman who stopped by on a bike offering to donate money. "I am so sorry for them, and I hope that they settle in somewhere and are cared for."
A team of volunteers with Martha's Vineyard Community Services set up cots and tables with food.
"Also just comforting and letting them know. They were dropped off without any real idea. The very first thing that every individual has said as they come up is, 'Do you have work?'"
Those were essentially the words a migrant told reporters Thursday through an interpreter. "If there was somebody that could ask to give me the opportunity to give me a chance to stay here and work, because his journey was a month and 20 days and it has to be worth it," said the interpreter. "That's what he wishes."
for more features.