As of January the local nonprofit Humane Borders has a new chair, their first woman chair since their start-up in 2000. Her name is Dora Rodriguez.

In 2020, the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol found 42 people who had died from their journey crossing the border. Back in 1980, those numbers werent recorded. But Dora Rodriguez remembers how many people in her group died that year, and how close she was to becoming another life lost.

Rodriguez was only a mile away from the nearest highway when she was found with a group of 13 others.

My hair was burned. my lips were blistered, my skin. my whole body was covered in splinters and no shoes. and they found me lying face down under a tree, said Rodriguez.

She said she was told she only had 30 minutes of life left in her when border patrol discovered her.

I woke up in the arms of border patrol and they kept saying dont die on me. Dont die on me.

That’s the last thing she remembered before finding out the rest of her group didnt make it.

It wasn’t until 2016 that she was finally able to talk about the experience.

We ran out of water the first night. By the first night, we were already compromised. we were drinking our own pee, lotion, anything we could find, said Rodriguez.

She said she had no idea how severe the journey would be. She left her family and friends to follow her dream of being a social worker.

Since her rescue, she was able to follow that dream. Now, shes honoring the young girls and women she met on her journey.

She said she will carry her experience into the work she does for Humane Borders. The nonprofit places water tanks in the Arizona desert in an effort to prevent deaths.

By the time I was rescued, 13 people had died and a woman that was pregnant. Those girls I will really remember. I really do this work to honor them.

Rodriguez says her goal for Humane Borders is to expand into Yuma to get water to other areas where it could possibly save a life.