/ Modified jul 5, 2016 8:55 a.m.

Tucson Samaritans Offer Food, Water to Migrants in Desert

Stories of people dying in the desert prompted effort to help.

Tony Durusso

Fourteen years ago this month, a group of Tucsonans calling themselves “People of Faith” headed across the desert with water and food for stranded migrants.

They became known as the Tucson Samaritans. Today, thousands of volunteers, from more than 30 countries have joined the Samaritans.

Fifty miles south of Tucson in the Tumacacori mountains is a trail that goes into a remote area known as Coyote Tank. It's an area that Tucson Samaritans Katherine Ferguson and Bob Kee know well.

“It is one of the deadliest areas, because there is no water out here and very rough terrain. People fall off the cliffs. People die,” Ferguson said.

Every week, they and other teams spread out along the border. They bring food and water. They also carry something else — compassion, Kee said.

“When you’re in a place watching your children starve," Kee said, "I would do the very same thing.”

The samaritans make the two-mile hike through steep and rocky terrain carrying backpacks filled with water and food. They know this is a popular trail for migrants, and announce their presence by calling out that they have water and food.

“Hola Buenos Dias – Somos Amigos. Tienos aqua y comida,” they say.

No one answers, but they say next week when they come back, the food and water will be gone, and sometimes a note is left behind saying "gracias," thank you.

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