Maria Ochoa is a 70-year-old grandmother who has walked the Arizona desert well over 100 times providing water and aid to migrants who have crossed the border from Mexico. The humanitarian aid she and other Tucson Samaritans provide is legal, as long as they don’t transport migrants or venture onto private land.

She came to StoryCorps in Tucson with her friend and fellow volunteer, Alma Schlor, to share her connection to the work.


This summer, Maria will have been doing this work with the Tucson Samaritans for seventeen years. She was one of the founders of the organization in 2002.


Top photo: Maria Ochoa poses by the Arizona/Mexico border wall, south of Tucson, Arizona. By Camila Kerwin for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Alma Schlor and Maria Ochoa at their StoryCorps interview in Tucson, Arizona on April 20, 2016. By Camila Kerwin for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Maria Ochoa walks one of the trails she monitors with the Tucson Samaritans. By Camila Kerwin for StoryCorps.

Originally aired June 21, 2019 on NPR’s Morning Edition.