Her Family Is In Mexico. They Only Had 4 Minutes Together At The Border. That’s When He Proposed.

This week’s Recharge features people who improve the lives of others, seek justice, and work around obstacles to create a better world.

Daisy Arvizu with her family members and her fiancé, Martin Giovanni Portillo.Courtesy Alfredo Corchado/Dallas Morning News

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They had four minutes. On Saturday, Martin Giovanni Portillo proposed to his girlfriend, Daisy Arvizu, in front of family.

But there was no time to spare. Standing in a dry riverbed of the Rio Grande on the US-Mexico border, Portillo, a US citizen, had to do it quickly. Every year, a nonprofit in El Paso, Texas, organizes a “Hugs Not Walls” event that allows families to temporarily reunite while US Border Patrol agents keep watch. Flanked by her family from Mexico, Arvizu, a DACA student, said yes—and as the Dallas Morning News reports, showed her ring to a proud dad and family.

Then their four minutes was up. Border Patrol authorities separated the US-based couple from her father and other relatives from Ciudad Juárez. Another family could reunite now—but only for four minutes.

Recharge is a weekly newsletter full of stories that will energize your inner hellraiser. This week, we feature people who improve the lives of others, seek justice, and work around obstacles to create a better world. Sign up at the bottom of the story. 

  • The man who saved millions of babies. Blood transfusions saved James Harrison’s life when he was 14. So at 18, he began donating blood. Doctors found—perhaps because of the earlier transfusions—that the Australian man’s blood had unique, disease-fighting antibodies. His blood helped build an injection called Anti-D that fights rhesus disease, which attacks unborn babies. Known as the “man with the golden arm,” Harrison donated blood nearly every week for 60 years—and officially ‘retired’ at the age of 81, according to CNN. “Every batch of Anti-D that has ever been made in Australia has come from James’ blood,” said Jemma Falkenmire of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. “And more than 17 percent of women in Australia are at risk, so James has helped save a lot of lives.” Among the 3 million women given the injection: Harrison’s daughter, who gave birth to a healthy son. (CNN)
  • The lawyer fighting for women “to have rights like men.” In Pakistan’s Swat Valley, Mehnaz represents moms abandoned by their husbands and brides beaten by their spouses. She is one of only 12 women lawyers—along with 500 male colleagues—in an area with 700,000 people. And she had to fight like hell for that law degree. When Mehnaz (who goes by one name) was in high school, the Taliban took over her village and burned down the girls’ schools. But she continued her education despite the fear the insurgents stoked—even as her family endured threats for allowing Mehnaz to study. “They were terrible years,” she said. “It was risky. But I didn’t lose courage.” (NPR)
  • The new American who showed other Americans how to be. “This is not about I the person, but about we the people,” Chef José Andrés said upon winning the James Beard Foundation’s humanitarian of the year award in February. “I didn’t feed anybody; WE fed many…People were hungry.” Andrés, a Spanish native who became a US citizen in 2013, received the award for his work feeding the hungry after natural disasters in Houston and Puerto Rico. And as Fast Company touts, business is booming for the impulsive chef and impassioned activist. (Fast Company)
  • The community that responds with peace and an epic cookout. Two weeks after a white woman called the police on a black family for lakeside grilling in Oakland, California, the community staged a huge cookout at the park last Thursday. The peaceful celebration involved food, of course, and music that got folks up and grooving to the electric slide. Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney saw the event as an antidote to the blatant racism of the earlier call. “Police are not private security for any white person that’s offended by the presence of black folks in our public spaces.” (HuffPost)
  • The evangelical revival that preaches tolerance and diversity. Meet the Red Letter Christians, a group that describes themselves as “taking the words of Jesus seriously,” while combating racism, gun violence, and the death penalty. The organization wants to provide evangelical Christians “an alternative to the old, white, predominantly male, and politically conservative evangelicalism that they believe has led the movement to lose its way.” One Red Letter founder, Shane Claiborne, says white churches “are hemorrhaging and struggling. But the church is flourishing in ethnic communities and immigrant communities.” (Mother Jones)

That’s it for this edition! We hope Recharge helps you in the week ahead—and brings out the hellraiser in you. Have a tip or a link? Email us at recharge@motherjones.com. And make sure you sign up for this newsletter below. 

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

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