A Somber Ride From the Airport

Meeting a mom going through an unimaginable loss.

Dan Hanley
4 min readFeb 19, 2024


The author in Tijuana. Photo credit: Author

Before I begin, I’d like you to know that I am not using the real names of any individuals I write about in this story.

I was finishing my volunteer shift at the shelter and saw a staff member walking across the room, towards me. She thanked me again for being there (I was in town all week), and asked if I had plans this evening.

A minute later I was speaking with her about a trip to the airport to pick up a woman flying in from El Salvador.

Not a refugee or client.

Not a new staff member or volunteer.

The woman flying in was coming to Tijuana to bring the body of her son home, back to El Salvador.

“Of course”, I quickly said.

One of the many things I love about the city of Tijuana is the huge amount of people living and working there drawn to support immigrants and refugees. I had met many of these people over the past six years of doing volunteer work, and then consulting work with some of the organizations working along the border. Most of my work was within a mile of two of the border, one of the busiest in the world and just 18 miles south of downtown San Diego.



Dan Hanley

I write about nonprofits, fundraising, recruiting, self-care. Human rights, domestic violence, borders and refugee focused. Sober. Vegan.