Refugio is a wonderful environment for human and animal life. Over the years, a balanced ecosystem has been developing which allows for life of all forms, respecting the natural system of nature and the delicate balance that is part of life meeting life. At REFUGIO, things are grown traditionally - no artificially produced chemicals or other materials are used to fertilize or treat the land, water, or other systems used by the residents. Cleaning and cooking supplies and other materials used at the camp are ecologically sound and biodegradable. Plants and animals co-exist with little human intrusion. As a result, several species of vegetation and animal life have returned to this part of the valley and are flourishing in this refuge. Chachalacas nest in the anacua trees; mosquitoes, though prevalent in the wet season, are less prevalent because of the re-entry of other predatory insects. Recently, muskrats have been sighted in the pond; frogs and fish live together with the ducks and geese. Huge flocks of egrets are seen resting on the cattails, we enjoy daily visits by a Great Blue Heron and various species of birds and other animals can be seen all over the camp. The refugees and volunteers co-exist with nature, appreciating it for what it is and serving as good stewards of these gifts.

As life and death are a part of humanity's existence, so it is in the entire animal kingdom. In two weeks this fall, we lost a horse, a cow, a goose, a duck, a dove and a pecan tree. Yet we also planted new trees, cleared some areas of weeds so they could be accessible and enjoyed again, saw the migration of butterflies from the north and birds from across the country. Life, death, and life are daily activities at REFUGIO, not only in the sense of human and animal existence, but also in the sense of interpersonal and intrapersonal life. At REFUGIO, everything and everyone is constantly evolving into what we can be. Persons are encouraged to explore their limits and their capacities while at REFUGIO in an affirming environment. For those new to this country the challenge may be to realize that life here is also hard, and getting started all over again is difficult. Legal cases,language training, educational demands, job training and searching are all a part of what must happen when one comes here. For those who are already citizens, it is also difficult. Sharing in community, teaching, learning, recovering, training and retraining are a part of the adjustment.

In REFUGIO we depend on one another for the sustaining of the environment in which we live. All of us are becoming ecologists, all are becoming horticulturists, all are becoming nature lovers, and all are strugglers along the way. In this beautiful and hard environment, new life happens every day.

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